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Annotations Some Days in the Life - Daily
Pentads, Acknowledgments and A Dose of Fear
January 27, 2000


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It's worse than my birthday today. It's a Pentad birthday. Thirty-two, to be exact, which is the Order Point of the Pentad. I figure there are five (of course) Pentad birthdays, at least in the first cycle. And the second cycle is next to impossible to reach. They are, respectively: 5 (Gold, or Creation), 23 (Red, or Destruction), 25 (Black, or Chaos), 32 (Green, or Order) and 55 (Blue, or Balance). They make a certain sense. Your childhood is the creation of you as a person, your self-definition, your becoming of you. At 23, you crash and burn. Immediately post-college (traditionally), this is really your chance to leave the incubator of society and find yourself naked in the Real World. Destruction follows -- you max out your credit cards, you drink yourself insensitive, you have indiscriminate sex, you get fired from a couple of jobs--

Wait, Van's in his Destruction era now. Man, I've got to put better security in his office.

Destruction doesn't last long, as was pointed out. 25 is the Chaos point. You enter a flurry of life-adjustments, doing crazy things, making broad moves, and generally taking all the stuff you learned and molded in the Creation phase (except for the stuff you burnt or pissed away in the Destruction phase) and throwing it into new patterns until one sticks and you like it. At 32, just in time for the first mid-life crisis, you enter the Order point. Life has settled. You're in a routine you're comfortable with. You establish yourself in a given pattern. You decided to trade your perfectly good two year old subcompact in on a mid-sized or on a sportscar, depending on your fear of old age (the latter) or your low bank account (the former). You think about having 2.4 kids. Finally, at 55 you enter Balance. You're old enough that you don't have anything to prove, but you're nowhere near done with things. Creation, Destruction, Chaos and Order all become part of your life. If you're lucky, you retire early and enjoy it right away, but even if not there's no big deal. It's Balance. You can wait.

I've followed the pattern, if not the exact dates of it. My Chaos period in particular was very... chaotic. I made two 3,000 mile moves, worked in a lot of different fields, had a couple of cars, got a degree, acted professionally, pillow-fought professionally, was so totally broke I lived on graham cracker crust I scrounged and water for a few days, had enough spare cash to buy multiple video game systems and lived in more area codes than I could easily remember. And then I settled into a pattern -- here -- found I liked it and now move into the Order point.

Will I never leave the Academy? Hey, never say never. But I'm likely -- barring random fate or a lottery win -- to stay in the same field. Right now I'm building up my 403(b) and getting a reliable, bigger car to see me through for a decade or more. All perfectly orderly, I guess.

The weird bit is... I'm making the transition from early 30's to mid 30's. To "thirty-something," as they say. I'm officially adult in every way now, despite my regular watching of goofy cartoons. Am I "old?" No. No, not really. But I'm not young per se, either. I'm not a kid any more. I know this -- I work with kids. Teenagers, which when I was their age meant I was an adult who just had to endure being treated like a kid.

I'm now at that age where I'd like to be a kid but more people treat me like an adult all the time. I always talked about the ridiculousness in concentrating on age, but that was before I reached an age where it began to have some effect on me.

Falling asleep last night (after midnight, so Birthday Rules were in effect), I realized that I'd have to lie to be 96 for two thirds of my life to be over. That's bloody unlikely, especially with my heart and all. 64 is moderately more likely, which makes me middle aged. Most likely it'll be somewhere in between. Or I'll get hit by a bus and die next week.

It's unfair we don't get round numbers on how long we have. It's unfair we can't plan better. It's unfair that we have to think about it at night before falling asleep.

And it's unfair that you don't have trouble falling asleep thanks to the breathless anticipation of waking up on your birthday, the next day. It's just another day, in the end.

Though I should get dinner out of it, at least. Mmm. Yet More Salt Free Goodness.

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