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Thoughts on 40



When I turned 33, the last thing being celebrated that day was me. And I was completely okay with it.


My cousin Lauren just got married to an awesome guy named Alex the night before (short story short-my other cousin Christian is married to a guy named Robert, who just happens to be Alex's brother. So my cousins are legally sisters. Weird, right?), my whole family was at a brunch celebrating the wedding, my cousin Christian announced to everyone the sex of her first baby, and it was Mother's Day.


I was more than happy to share that day with such good news and good people.


So, 7 years later, my day falls again on Mother's Day. And again, I'm glad to deflect this huge number to another occasion being celebrated.


I think back to my life at 33 and how different it will be at 40.


33-My career was going great and my home life suffered for it.


40-My home life is going great and I have no 'career.'


That is a crude way of putting the biggest difference in the two ages.


I'll explain-


At 33, I was in the middle of a long string of acting roles/opportunities that helped shape me as an actor and a person:

Directed at a great regional house

Played some 'white whale' level roles, such as:

Leaf Coneybear in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

The Celebrant in Bernstein: MASS

Enjolras in Les Miserables

Kyle, the UPS Guy in Legally Blonde


My wife had just played Patti Page in Flipside: The Patti Page Story Off-Broadway in NYC.

She was also in Les Miz with me as an amazing Fantine.


All the time we shared apart didn't necessarily make our time together better. I definitely took for granted our relationship and didn't put the work into it. Not like the work I was putting into my career.


Flash forward to now:


We no longer live in NYC. We no longer are actors as a main profession. We are expecting our first child, a boy. We have put the work into our marriage and I can say that no matter what good or bad comes my way, I know I can deal with it because that relationship is well maintained and supports me.


But the lingering thought and feeling I struggle with is, "What am I going to do now?"


I have put so much of my identity in my career. I always wanted to be an actor that was called on for his work. And now I don't work. So how can I be called on?


I have fully embraced this transition of my life and can look at the past year in 3 parts;

Act One

Intermission

Act Two.


Act One-Life until July 30. My career in NYC. My marriage. My family and friends. My college(s) experiences.


Intermission-July 30, 2018 to June 18, 2019. My new life in Philadelphia. My son that is growing in my wife's belly. My very strange existence here as a sometimes actor/church singer/catering manager.


Act Two-my son's delivery and life that waits for me. I have no idea what to expect. I cannot predict what will happen or who I will become. But I embrace the uncertainty and welcome the change. I had a good run of 40 years. I know the next 40 will be more rewarding and more memorable than the last 40. Not saying better or worse.


I will continue to grow and try to become a better man. I have been sober 2 months, I have shed a lot of things in the past few years that were making me a man I didn't want to be. I will try to evolve into a man who doesn't seek his sole identity in the work he does. I will be spoken for in my relationships. I will use my beautiful wife and child as a mirror for the man I am.


I will strive to let go of the feeling that New York City and my Broadway dreams failed me.


That they let me go and didn't care that I left.


That I wasted 20 years.





That I failed.




In Act 2, there is resolution. I anticipate that and welcome it with open arms.

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mike.brandes
May 08, 2019

Just turned 40 myself. Crazy to think we are where we are in life after meeting in 3rd grade. I welcomed my 3rd daughter just 7-8 weeks before I turned 40. Just as much of an experience as it was when we welcomed our first when I was, coincidentally, 33. Only advice I will give - pick a name - make that name an email address and start emailing him now. Pics of ultrasounds, plans, thoughts, etc. - give the email address to family members and friends. Flood his inbox with memories and when he is much older, after some of those who have left him notes have left this earth, he can read them. It is essentially a virtual…


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