"Our fear of death is all the greater when we have not dared to live...Daring to live means daring to die at each moment. But it also means daring to be born—daring to pass through important stages in life where the person you used to be dies, in order to make room for someone with a new view of the world." --Arnaud Desjardins
If you are in your forties like me you may find yourself wondering, Am I a grown up yet? Despite having passed various "adult" milestones - getting my driver's license, turning 18, going away to college, renting my first house, buying my first car, buying my first car with money that wasn't loaned to me by my parents, getting married, owning a house, having kids - most days I still feel like a young adult, waiting to be "all grown up."
I think this is it.
I'm not sure it gets any easier or that the answers are any clearer or that life makes any more sense at 55 than it does at 45 or than it did at 25 or 35, but today I feel like a grown up and here's why:
For the first time in my life I know all the celebrities who have died this year. I don't mean that I know of them or have heard of them or recognize them from their photograph. I mean I know them.
I spent weekday afternoons in the late 1970's with Ann B Davis and the rest of the Bradys at the Robinson's house up the street, Casey Kasem helped me get ready for church every Sunday morning in the 80's by pumping my room full of Top 40 hits, Maya Angelou made me cry on January 20, 1993 as she read 'On the Pulse of Morning' and I watched the first president I had elected be inaugurated, I ran into Philip Seymour Hoffman in Greenwich Village in 2006 when I went to visit my sister in New York City for the first time, and now Mork from Ork has died.
I think this is it. I think I'm all grown up.
As milestones go, it's as good a measure of adulthood as any. It requires us to die a little bit with each passing, to move through important stages of life (death and dying, grieving, carrying on), and to let go of the people we were when we watched 'Mork and Mindy' or 'Good Morning Vietnam' or 'Good Will Hunting.'
It requires that we make room for an us with a new view of the world. A world without a Robin Williams or a Philip Seymour Hoffman or a Maya Angelou.