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At 48, I seem to have reached an age at which the daunting prospect of growing older has given way to the desire to be done with my “career” and back in control of my own life, a life which to this point has been largely a failure. Meanwhile, I have no idea how–emotionally, intellectually, spiritually–I’m going to get through the next 17 years to retirement. And, indeed, it’s looking like 65 might not be the magic age for much longer as the politicos eye pushing the goal posts back. More than once recently I’ve lingered in a fantasy in which some genie or spirit makes me an intriguing proposition: wake up tomorrow free from the need of job and with all the resources I would have accumulated over the next 17 years. The price? Direct to 65–those 17 years unlived. I think it’s a deal I’d accept in a heartbeat. Right now, I don’t see surrendering those 17 years as much of a sacrifice.

I watched my father die at the age of 57 with not a hell of a lot to show for it. I vowed, as a 19 year old, not to let that happen to me. Now, not much younger than he was at the time of his death, I’m gutted to find myself limping down that same lonely road, bereft of map or compass.