In a few days I will say goodbye to my 30s. Tchau. Adios. Sayonara. Later, dude. It’s been nice knowing you.
Turning 30 didn’t bother me because I still felt so young. Turning 40 terrifies me because I’ve napped twice since starting this column.
When I turned 30 people told me I looked 22. No one ever believed me when we played the "Guess-how-old-I-am" game. But now, as I turn 40, I suddenly look 67. Great if you're trying to collect Social Security or get the seniors' 4 p.m. discount at Denny's. Not great if you still have a kid in diapers.
I've lived a bizarre and interesting 10 years. My 20s ended with a run for Congress. I thank heaven and the GOP delegates of Utah’s third district everyday for sending me home. Never have I been more grateful to finish in second place.
My 30s are ending in a way I could have never predicted, as a full-time writer and public speaker.
Along the way, there have been plenty of heartaches. I’ve been haunted by a decade-long legal dispute so frivolous, it makes lawsuits over spilled hot coffee look legitimate. If I wrote a memoir about it they would put it in the fiction category because no one would believe people could behave in such ways. The process nearly destroyed me financially and emotionally. Suffice it to say I’ve learned more about forgiveness and humility than I ever wanted to learn.
There have also been tragic deaths of both friends and friendships. One of my best childhood pals was killed in a car accident near our hometown in Charlottesville, Va. Another from the same era might as well be gone because he refuses to speak to me anymore. I’d share the reasons if I actually knew them.
There have been miracles, too. A niece shouldn’t have survived her arrival on earth, the open-heart surgery or the multiple life-flights to a children’s hospital in Washington, D.C. But she did, and today this little angel is pestering her brothers and sisters like a pro.
And, after my wife had a miscarriage early in the decade that led us to believe we might not have more children, we had two boys and on most days I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
There have also been lessons learned. Do not go on C-SPAN with a runny nose. Do not make jokes at airport security. Do not ask your wife if that’s what she’s really wearing to a neighborhood party. And do not, I repeat do not lower the rim on your portable backyard basketball hoop and hang on the rim when you dunk it.
There have been successes. Books have landed on best seller lists for months and have been translated into languages all around the world. But there have been tremendous failures, too. Recovering Charles, one of my personal favorites, failed to strike a chord and flopped faster and harder than a Jennifer Lopez film. I suppose that one is all around the world, too, balancing uneven legs on bargain book tables far and wide.
I have visited 38 states and met countless people I won’t forget in this life or the next. I’ve come home from each and every trip to a family that tolerates the travel and loves me in spite of my baggage. They are the gorgeous pressure-tested diamonds; I am still the coal, a rock with potential.
So what do I predict for the next 10 years? No more kids. A dozen more books – half become best sellers, the others bomb and are used to treat insomnia. I’ll finally buy a movie ticket to one of my book-to-film adaptations. I’ll visit the Great Wall, return to my beloved Brazil, lock my daughters in their bedrooms when they turn 16 and take my boys to the emergency room at least six times — each.
What will I learn? How to be more patient. How to manage my time more effectively. Maybe how to write more better and stuff, irregardless what people think. Perhaps I'll learn to more fully appreciate my amazing mother for all she’s endured and for all she’s done for me. And, hopefully, I’ll continue to learn that Heavenly Father loves me on the bad days just as much as the good.
Bring it on, 40s. Bring the pain, successes, joys, failures and aches of the heart, knees and lower back.
Well, maybe I'm not so terrified after all. Can I still get a third nap?