42 is the magic number | PostIndependent.com

42 is the magic number

April Clark
Staff Photo |

A woman might expect to cry the day after her 42nd birthday.

The concept isn’t so far-fetched.

Admittedly, it was an old song turned into a Boyz II Men hit that made me cry on a sunny Monday afternoon as the mountain air whipped my face from the half-opened car window. It wasn’t until I started singing along that I realized tears were rolling down my cheeks. I took a quick glance in my rear-view mirror and my face looked like I was just attacked by bees.

My red highlights seem to come out when I cry.

I don’t know how many others out there cry like I do, but my process is sporadic. I can cry at the strangest of times, Boyz II Men remake or no Boyz II Men remake. I usually require a trigger, like say a sad song or when the goat named for me, Clarkie, makes a cute sound. I usually cry it all out at once, so I usually have to work up to a good one. Unless it was last year.

That was open season for random cry sessions.

Once I started crying, of course, the tears let loose, and I had myself one of those good old-fashioned cries that, when over, made me feel as if I could conquer the universe. I cried about a year that didn’t make sense. I cried for the realization that nothing is probably ever going to make a lot of sense anymore. I cried because I was taking another step away from the fun of my youth toward the age when wisdom is of utmost importance. I cried for the people I said goodbye to when I was 41. I cried for the people I will say goodbye to at 42. I mostly was crying because my heart holds out for the people who don’t need it.

Then I cried just because I was crying.

I likened the experience of driving down the road while having a healthy cry to the radio to the idea that each time snakes shed their skin, they weep a little. Hey, it’s an idea. As the snake sheds, she cries for the skin she was wearing when life made her smile. And when it had the complete opposite effect. She cries for the skin she was in when she made important decisions about the direction life needed to take her. Maybe she conquered several fears in that skin.

Maybe she was on the way to change the world in that skin.

That’s sort of how that cry felt. Like I was saying goodbye to yesterday, and being ready for what life is like at 42. It’s a number that seems to be resonating with me. Maybe it’s because I tend to lean to even numbers. Maybe it’s because in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” 42 is deemed the “answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.”

I can go with that.

Anything can happen in my 42nd year. Technically, anything can happen to anyone in any year. But this year is big for some reason I have yet to determine. That’s the beauty of birthdays. Every new year is a blank slate in one’s life to do something big, small, different, familiar, helpful and personal. It’s a time of renewal and re-evaluation.

I think crying is a great way to start the process.

I’m probably not being my own psychic when I reveal that change will come to me this year. It’s inevitable, on some level. And I’m OK with that. We all have to accept change to become better people on the planet, or to at least thrive in today’s society. I think at 42, accepting whatever comes with life seems like the ultimate answer to everything. It seems simple.

Maybe it is that simple.

I think it would be keen if 42 is the year things come together for me like a light rain on an April day followed by a double rainbow. The spiritual side of me says 42 is speaking to me. Maybe that’s because it does have actual significance in pop culture. The number 42 is often seen in film, literature, sports and TV.

And 29-hour peyote trips in the desert.

Lewis Carroll was a fan of the number 42. That’s how many illustrations “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” has. And the Rule 42 of the Code is in the preface to “The Hunting of the Snark.”

And there’s nothing I love more than snark.

I am a big fan of Mr. Carroll’s, so that’s obviously a sign that something Alice in Wonderland-like may be coming my way. I think I already have a Cheshire Cat in my life, and she continues to help me in making decisions. I can’t wait to meet the rest of the Lewis Carrollesque characters in my life this year who will help me grow and send me on my way. Even Alice cried.

Down the rabbit hole I go.

— April E. Clark would like to give Boston a standing ovation this week. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail.com.

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