As I sit here on the eve of my 39th birthday, I recall all the years I have experienced on this Earth. Being alive these 38 years and 364 days has allowed me to mature and experience success and failure, changes and challenges, trials and triumphs. From a very young age I have always felt that I was here for a reason, that I was special somehow. As we count our life in years, and in my case down to the second, it is important to think about where we have been and where we are going. As a young adult I thought life could be short and sweet, thinking of living to 54 as having truly lived; making deals with God that if I made it to that age, I would be happy. Now at 39, 54 seems so close that I have to rethink that promise.

Growing up in the hood, many of my peers did not make it to 20, much less 30 and I worried during the dreaded years of 14 through 28, when men that looked like me were destined to be incarcerated or interred, that I needed some ethereal protection. Often, I felt like the hands of God were wrapped around me. During my reckless times, when I could have been dead several times over, it was only through this protection that I survived. Now, on the eve of the date of my birth, I realize that I am here for a reason, and my plan is to live out that reason to its fullest potential.

None of us know what is planned for us, when our days will end, or what our specific purpose is for travailing this world. What I do know is that those coveted ages: 18, 21, 30, 40 and so on, come upon us much quicker as time passes and which much less grace. Getting an education is not easy, keeping control of a career is difficult, and being a good father and husband is the toughest of them all. Next year, in my 40th year, 3rd month, and 10th day, I will be Dr. Lincoln Duane Johnson, and another chapter of the book of life will begin. This is called Mid-Life and I plan on continuing the success I have experienced thus far, to travel far and wide, to look deep within myself and leave a legacy that will exist long after I have perished. That is, in the words of my paternal grandmother, “If the Lord says the same.”