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The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything

I have been waiting to turn 42 since I was in middle school and read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Deep Thought, the computer in the book, works on the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything, and after many millions of years returns the answer: 42.  The problem is that we don’t know the question.

Get it?

It’s impossible to know the question AND the answer.  We don’t get our cake AND get to eat it, too.  We don’t get to have all mysteries solved and know how to steer our lives toward fulfillment.  We just get this one chance, here on earth, to not muck up things too badly, enjoy our experience, and be okay with the fact that all will not be revealed while simultaneously still trying to reveal it.

And one time — one time only — we (hopefully) get a chance to actually be 42 for 365 days.  I’m about to start that journey.

It’s the first time in a long time that I don’t mind aging a year.  I’m not really great about my birthday and turning older, and I generally get melancholy before, during, and after.  But I’m really looking forward to being 42*.

This past weekend, we celebrated my birthday early at the beach with ski ball and amusement park rides.  I read 9 comic books while sitting on the sand, listening to the waves.  We ate French fries and Nic-o-bolis.  A birthday well-marked.

The day itself will be a chance to just step back and marvel at the fact that I am here at all.  That 42 years ago, anything could have happened.  But I did.  Isn’t that so weird?

*Luckily, I am also looking forward to being 44 for the symmetry of that number, so it’s not as if it’s all downhill from here.


1 Beth { 06.01.16 at 8:26 am }

Happy early birthday! I just turned 39. I spent the day at my daughter’s school and then at home, watching Netflix with my husband. Similar to you marveling at how anything could have happened 42 years ago, I marveled (and got a bit emotional to tell the truth) that I’m here, with my family, now. So much of my early 30s was spent confronting the idea that this, these tiny people, this life, might never happen. (One birthday in particular was spent confirming my ectopic pregnancy so really there’s no where to go but up from there, right?)And yet here we are, here I am. As much as most of our friends seem to dread being 40, I’m not. For as rough a start as they got, my 30s have brought me some pretty amazing experiences. It’s just going to keep getting better. So I say bring on another year. Cheers to you and turning 42!

2 a { 06.01.16 at 9:24 am }

44 was apparently when I reached middle age, because it sort of freaked me out.

Happy Birthday! Sounds like the celebration was fun. I hope the day itself is just as enjoyable!

3 Nicoleandmaggie { 06.01.16 at 9:34 am }

Happy birthday!

4 Justine { 06.01.16 at 10:22 am }

When I turned 42 this year, I kept telling everyone it was my “meaning of life” birthday. Except no one got the joke! Maybe that was the whole point. 🙂 Happy birthday, a few days early; may there be cake and video games and family and friends and laughter and love and all of the things that make meaning all year round.

5 Working mom of 2 { 06.01.16 at 10:35 am }

Ah, I need to reread those books!

I don’t remember the 42 thing….that was the age I was when my oldest was born, so that was good…

I personally dread getting older…for a while I could say “at least I’m only in my early 40s” then “…mid 40s”…this year I’ll be definitely in my late 40s…gah

And yeah, I often find myself marveling that various things (like high school! And now part of college!) were 30+ years ago…how can that be????

6 Noemi { 06.01.16 at 12:35 pm }

Happy birthday! 42 is a great number. I hope it’s a great year!

7 xykademiqz { 06.01.16 at 12:39 pm }

Happy birthday!

I will be turning 43 later in June. I definitely enjoyed being the answer to the the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. I don’t mind aging at all, as long as my health is good (knock on wood).

8 Cristy { 06.01.16 at 12:57 pm }

Happy early birthday, Mel!

I love Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, though I always interpreted the answer and question differently (thought they mistakenly asked for an answer and it was an answer to all questions. Now they have to narrow it down to the actual question). I like your analysis better.

9 loribeth { 06.01.16 at 1:07 pm }

Happy birthday, dear Mel! 🙂 Never read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but I’m glad if it makes your birthday more special.

10 Pom { 06.01.16 at 1:23 pm }

Happy Birthday! I hope that I can be that positive about my 40’s as you are. At the moment I am not looking forward to getting any older. Would you believe I have never read the books?! I did catch the movie version when it came out a few years back. But now I think I will also wait till I am 42 to read them… love how poetic it all sounds.

11 Ana { 06.01.16 at 1:28 pm }

Happy Birthday! Glad you are feeling good about the year. I need to read that book sometime in the next 2 years so I can look forward to 42.

12 nonsequiturchica { 06.01.16 at 3:03 pm }

Happy birthday!

13 Lori Lavender Luz { 06.01.16 at 4:25 pm }

42 is double 21. It’s the primes 2 x 3 x 7. What is it in gematria? I googled it and found that the answer is google (of course it is). https://www.seroundtable.com/photos/googles-gematria-42-16003.html

Happy birthday, dear friend. You already know the answer is in being kind and having loving relationships. So glad we’re going around together. How lucky am I?

14 Suzanna Catherine { 06.01.16 at 5:04 pm }

Happy Happy Birthday! I remember 42. It was a good year. I’ve never read the book, but I always thought it had a cool title. ?
When I think of birthdays (well, mine anyway) I’m always so glad that I was born into what seems to me to be the perfect little sliver of the 20th century.

I can’t imagine being born at any other time. It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses, but I’m fortunate in many ways.

I’m glad you’re looking forward to 42 and 44! When I turned 40 my Mom told me to just enjoy my 40s, that they would be some of my best years. She was right. I wish the same for you.

I’m really glad that we are inhabiting some of the same decades. You’ve certainly been a blessing for many of us out here on the edges of the Internet.

Once again, have a great birthday and a wonderful time being 42.


15 Queenie { 06.01.16 at 9:46 pm }

Happy birthday!!!! I hope it is fabulous. I am sure it will be. After all, it’s 42!

16 Mali { 06.02.16 at 1:19 am }

Happy Birthday! I love that you have equated it to The Answer to life, universe and everything. You’ve made me think about being 42 (all those years ago) a little differently.

17 md { 06.02.16 at 2:17 am }

happy birthday. love your hitchkiker story, glad you are happy, and wish you more happiness down the line 🙂

18 mijk { 06.02.16 at 2:57 am }

If you were closer I’d Buy You a Nice new towel for your birthday!

19 Daryl { 06.02.16 at 10:13 am }

Happy birthday, Mel! May 42 be an excellent year! (And now I’m off to go re-read that book. If I’m lucky, I might get a chance to finish it before my 42nd birthday.)

20 Mina { 06.02.16 at 1:40 pm }

Happy birthday, dear Mel! I raise my prosecco glas to you. And miss you very much.

21 Angel Stew & Devil's Brew { 06.02.16 at 4:49 pm }

Happy Birthday! I turned 53 this year. I’m looking forward to the “double nickels” celebration. No major “a-ha” moments thus far but 53’s not so bad. Every day above ground is a good day, right? 😀 Cheers!

22 35jupiterdrive { 06.03.16 at 2:22 am }

Happy birthday to you. (42 is a very cool birthday.)

23 Jess { 06.03.16 at 4:49 pm }

Happy happy birthday! My sister actually threw a special party for her husband when he turned 42, because of it being the answer to everything. 🙂 I’m glad this is a good birthday, and it sounds like you spent it doing things you love. I’m glad 44 is something to look forward to, too! 49 is nice, too, because it’s a perfect square, but that’s quite a ways off. Happiest of birthdays to you!

24 Persnickety { 06.03.16 at 7:53 pm }

Happy birthday!

25 Charlotte { 06.05.16 at 6:20 pm }

I’m late to the party because I am way behind on blog reading and commenting, but I wanted to say a belated happy birthday! I am very glad this was a joyous one!

26 Middle Girl { 06.05.16 at 9:13 pm }

Happy 42nd Birthday!

27 JustHeather { 06.06.16 at 3:15 pm }

Happy belated birthday! I’ve still yet to read HHGTTG. (I know!)

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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