am thirty-five years old. And I am about halfway through my year of
being thirty-five. Also, I think, I am about halfway through life. I
know people are living longer and longer, but really as far as the
natural arc of life, I still think 35 is about the halfway point. It's
just that we've learned to prolong the end phase.
I remember watching one of the Joseph Campbell lectures where he talked
about the mythic archetype of the life cycle. According to this scheme,
a life was 70 years, mapped out like a transit of the sun across the
sky, and divided into four quadrants. The first 17 or 18 years of life
is Adolescence and it's when you reach physical maturity. Then, up
until 35 is called Manhood: you continue to attain wisdom without any
physical decline. (I'd argue with that!) Then for another 17 or 18
years, you are still gaining wisdom, but you're past your physical
prime. This is called "Age." And lastly for the final phase,
Decrepitude, you're just losing everything, body and mind.
That scheme appealed to me, because I had always kind of had 35 in my
mind as a kind of benchmark age. I always looked at what various great
people, writers mostly, had accomplished by age 35. And mostly, I found
that it was right around this time when they really came into their own
and made their mark. And so, this age has always scared me. Here I am
at the zenith of the life cycle. This is about as good as I'm going to
get. And where am I?