After the quake*


Funny thing about turning forty. It changes people.

Suddenly, you’re not just one year older—you’ve stepped into a whole new decade. And not just any decade, but the first decade of the rest of your life.

Perspectives change. What’s important becomes clearer. You start seeing what’s still worth your time and energy. And it’s easier to let go of what’s not.

Towards the end of 2015, I finally got around to reading Radio Shangri-La, which had been gathering dust on my shelf for months.

This is what I later wrote its author, Lisa Napoli:

I picked up Radio Shangri-La at a book sale a few months ago, never suspecting how much it would resonate with me, a forty-one-year-old just starting to realize how much of my past life I’ve spent barely conscious.

I just finished reading it today, and I just wanted to let you know I’ve copied [the last] two of the questions from the preface that you say you asked yourself into the notebook I carry around with me.

Thank you for sharing your experiences with the rest of us who are searching.

In case you are wondering, here are the two questions, exactly as Lisa wrote them:

  • What could I do with the second half of my life to make it more meaningful than the first?
  • How was I going to grow old gracefully?

Maybe they’ll start you thinking too. Maybe you’ll start asking yourself, as I now do every time I wonder if something is worthwhile, “Is this meaningful, for me or for someone else? Will it help me grow old gracefully?”

2015 turned out to be a doozy of a year. I went through one or two profound personal earthquakes. But the good thing about earthquakes is that when the dust settles, you look around, and what’s left standing are the things you know now will endure.

Everything else you can re-build, better and stronger than before.


*with apologies to Haruki Murakami


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