They're all just numbers, right?
I've finally made it home from what was supposed to be a 24 hr trip to the AACR meeting to write this post at a chronological anomaly in time. At 1:02 am and 3 seconds today, the ethnocentric American digital clock reads 01-02-03-04-05-06. For much of the rest of this world, the anomaly won't occur until 4 May, for obvious reasons.
The reason I care or even mention this is that it was pointed out to me in an airport bar yesterday by a guy whose birthday is 5 April. Turns out that yours truly is also one year older on this very same day, striking the non-descript milestone of 42.
How in the hell did this happen???
I still see myself as this 25-year-old kid playing guitar and bass, being totally hip to the latest music, running and cycling, spending 14 hours a day in lab, and partying like I'd never get old.
Instead, I am 42.
42, with greying hair. Even my allegedly hip attempt at growing a goatee is undermined with grey.
42, with an extra 20 pounds I put on during my wife's pregnancy.
42, with my first MRI of a major joint (my shoulder) last month because of constant pain I incurred as the 25-year-old spiking a volleyball in grad school.
42, not even a prime number, like last year's 41.
As I lamented the marking of being one year closer to my death, the director of PharmPreSchooler's parent/childcare co-op mentioned to me that, hey, 42 is the Answer to The Ultimate Question Of Life, the Universe and Everything. Ah yes, the Douglas Adams book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - surely, I could find some cosmic comfort in achieving the age that represents one of the coolest and mysterious numbers from a book of my generation.
Well, I fired up the old Wikipedia entry and learned:
"Douglas Adams was asked many times during his career why he chose the number forty-two. Many theories were proposed, but he rejected them all. On November 2, 1993, he gave an answer on alt.fan.douglas-adams:"
"The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought '42 will do' I typed it out. End of story."
Nope, nothing special about being 42...until I walked upstairs bleary-eyed early this morning from yet another delayed plane flight to see a cake baked in my honor and a card that reads, "Happy Birthday, Daddy."
Indeed, I guess 42 will do.