A few weeks ago, The Year Turned 40 by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke popped up as a recommendation on Amazon (affiliate link below). Being that 40 is quickly chasing me down, I decided to get the book and read it before I got caught. In the book, there are three best friends who are about to turn 50. At this point, I got annoyed that I had been tricked by the title. I thought I was going to read about three women about to turn 40!
Rather than throw the book down in frustration, I kept reading. It turns out that each of these three friends has a regret about her current life that in some way relates to events that happened when she was 39. So, when they get the chance to go back to that year and try again, the friends agree to return to their lives ten years in the past. Part of the deal is that they get to spend one whole year in the past, and at the end of that time, they can either stay in their new life or return to their current lives at 50. You’ll have to read the book to find out the ending, but I will tell you that changing their mistakes does not turn out to be as easy as they had thought. Although each woman changes a specific moment that caused regret in the past, new challenges arise that were not there the first time.
The premise of the book is kind of cheesy, but it did make me think a lot about those moments in our lives where we stand at a crossroads. The trajectory of your life changes when you choose a path. Sometimes I wonder where other paths may have taken me. What if I had majored in music or language instead of geophysics? What if I had chosen Rochester or Rutgers over Delaware or Boston College over George Washington? What if I had finished ROTC and joined the Army? What if I took that job in California or Texas? Life’s journey has so many branches.
Certainly, there are choices in my life that I regret, but thankfully none altered my life in a way that I would go back to change. Every time I have arrived at a crossroads, I feel that I’ve made the best decision I could in that moment. In the year that I turn 40, I am happy with my journey. Everything is not perfect, but I think I’ve learned to (mostly) handle the struggles with grace. I have every reason to be content with my career, and I have a wonderful relationship with my family. So, other than being happy to get more time with my kids at home, I don’t think I’ll be needing any time traveling magicians.