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Thursday, August 21, 2014

The second act

Life begins at 40. That's a well-worn phrase typically meant to make that momentous birthday pass a little less painfully for those that are age adverse.

Last year, at this time, I turned 40. And at that time I found nothing to write in honour of that significant event. What did it matter, it was just a number, just another year. I did give it some thought though. 40-- it is the half way point in life—if you are lucky. The first half of my life was full of accomplishments, adventures and a little mayhem. What was going to happen in the second act? Was I just going to coast along in the life I had created—the house, the kids the job?

One thing I know about myself is that I am never content without goals, without something I am working towards. I had been sinking into a deep ennui for several years, all my goals fulfilled: I had my family, worked in my aspired to field, bought my house. I didn't know what I wanted next but I knew there had to be a next.

For many years I had debated applying for a MA in Adult Education. It was offered at a nearby university as a distance education program with only a short period required on campus. But after thinking about it for years, and looking at it seriously last winter, I decided it was not the program for me. The thought of it did not make my heart beat faster. If I was going to return to school for fun and excitement, I have never pursued education for practical reasons, this clearly was not going to provide that experience I was craving. I wanted to go back to school—I love being in university and learning new things—but the thought of this course of study left me cold.

But I knew university was the thing missing from my life.

I looked at the sciences. I have always been interested in Biology but the thought of slogging through another undergraduate degree was daunting—especially at my age. I looked into applying for a Msc but whereas my other degrees were in the Arts the likelihood of acceptance was not great.

This summer I took the advice that I had given others who were reluctant about going to university due to the time it would take to finish a degree; time passes no matter what you do but if you are in school –when the years roll on you have the degree, the experience, you were wanting.

I put time considerations aside and applied for my Bsc with a ball of excited anxiety pulling at my stomach. I looked at the course catalogue and knew it was the right decision. The thrill I got from the things I could be studying—it was like academic porn.

Going back to school for me feels like reuniting with an old lover; I'm a little nervous and a lot excited. I run scenarios in my head of the coming days, months and years. I'll caress my new text books and breathe in their heady scent. I'll stumble bleary eyed through the day, after a night of elicit learning, fuelled by the excitement of what I might discover at the next lecture or lab.

I'll enter exam rooms with the confidence of a seasoned vaudeville performer. It is my place, my home, my love.

I can't wait for the second act.

All that-- and I want the ring.

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