42: The Meaning of Life

“The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.”

– Douglas Adams

In that case, I’m looking forward to true enlightenment because today is my 42nd birthday.

I was fortunate to be born in Australia. We didn’t have much growing up. Raised by a mother whose husband returned to the USA without his wife and four children, we benefited from the generosity of the country’s social safety net to keep our heads just above water.

Life went on, I enjoyed my education and saw it as a pathway to something bigger. The nation helped me once again with its low-cost loan system to support students in the costs of attending university. Without the ability to defer these subsidised university fees until I was employed, I would not have gained a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Law.

At 22 I met my wife, Hannah, through a random chance encounter during a night out. We hit it off and things grew from there. As it turned out, my wife is the daughter of the man who at the time was Leader of the Federal Opposition party, and who had served with distinction as a Minister in the famous Hawke government.

The fact that I, a boy who grew up with not much, should be thrust into this very different world, is a measure of the egalitarian potential of our nation. It has led to a whole range of circumstances that seem unimaginable from my perspective of a boy from a low-income family.

In 2005 we married. Since then we have owned and operated a small business and had two wonderful children. Over the years we have had had medical emergencies and fun and sadness. We exist most happily when we have a project to focus upon.

I played basketball until I was 40, at which point my knees and hips said, “enough”, and I was forced to give up my favourite sport.

I’ve always been interested in computing and technology. This interest persists even as I’m no longer the young whipper-snapper.

My hair is greying, my wrinkles are deepening, my belly is expanding. I am a family man who values his wife and children over and above his job, a career, or professional reputation.

I see the potential in Hannah to participate in the body politic of our nation. The country that held me close, lifted me up, and gave me the chance to build resilience in my youth and explore my potential in adulthood.

So here I sit in the foyer of middle age, full of interest for the future.

This is my 42.

Andrew Canion @canion
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