“All right,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…”
“Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought.
“Is…” said Deep Thought, and paused.
“Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.
This week, twenty one years ago, I moved to Orlando, Florida and started work at Universal Studios Florida. I spend my 21st birthday in a rather uneventful way: moving into an apartment with my cousin Jim. I did, though, take time to drive myself to the Orlando Ale House on Kirkman Road (which had only recently opened) and bought myself a beer because it was legal and stuff.
Twice that many years later, I’m sitting at my desk in my home office a mere five minute walk from the beach. Is my life perfect? Of course not. It is, though, perfect for me and in the long run – what more could you ask for? I just celebrated my eight year anniversary with my wonderfully patient wife who has put up with my unique brand of insanity for sixteen years. I have one of the coolest dogs on the planet: Karma the Dog. I own a company that creates unique entertainment that impacts people – fans – of all ages from (literally) around the globe.
Common human sense (or, at least, American pop culture) dictates that men are supposed to hit mid-life at forty. It’s a nice round number and folks tend to gravitate to it being a good time to gage your place in adult life. Turning forty, though, and the subsequent two years after were some of the worse times in my life. I lost my father to suicide. I was reminded of my own mortality shortly after when Paul Walker died. I fell victim to learning that homeowner’s associations in Florida are granted strange draconian abilities… and it cost me my home.
So what do you do when all that happens? Why, gain twenty five pounds, of course!
That’s not the whole story, though.
Here’s what else happens: you refuse to be “the victim”. One of the most important lessons I took away from my immigrant grandparents before they died was this: no matter how bad you think you have it, someone has it worse.
My father killed himself before I turned forty… but he knew I loved him and at least I had four good decades with him which was longer than he had with his own father.
Paul Walker died and reminded me of my own mortality… and I watch my guilty pleasure films (the Fast and the Furious series) to remind me that I’m still alive.
I lost my home… which is in a neighborhood that has stalled development for close to ten years now, which in the end I really didn’t lose much money on, and now I live by the beach.
So, yeah, life is what you make of it. Before the end of this month, I would have spent the past year bouncing all over the United States doing a job I love. I got to introduce my best friend to Gene Simmons in California. I got my pal Ryan to ride an insane amount of rollercoasters in Ohio. My wife and I saw bourbon being made in Kentucky. I got to visit my old home in Tennessee. I revisited tourism of my youth in Washington DC. I saw a friend, fresh from cancer remission, get married in Indiana. I ate the greatest crab dinner ever in Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. I ran a 5k themed after Rocky Balboa in Pennsylvania.
I even got the voice of Baymax (Big Hero 6) to call my wife when I was in Georgia to help her feel better… (she was at home with our sick dog.)
The true answer to life, the universe, and everything is easier than you think, folks. It’s balance. There’s good. There’s bad. You accept them both. And you live life.
So, thank you, universe – for life and, well, everything. Now I need to figure out what to do with the next forty two years.