I had some time to reflect this past weekend, and a phrase occurred to me: the fourth age. I applied it in very personal terms, which I’ll get to in a bit. But first, the references.
The first thing that came to my mind was Tolkien. Though I’ve read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy (many years ago); and I’ve seen the LOTR movies more times than I can count, I couldn’t tell you exactly what transpired in Tolkien’s “Fourth Age.” I just knew the term sounded very LOTR-ish.
The Internet tells me “the fourth age began when Sauron was vanquished and the One Ring destroyed.” Meaning the events depicted in the books (and movies) happened at the end of the third age.
But the Internet also revealed some meanings I was not aware of. There’s a book by Byron Reese that came out last year, titled The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity. It appears to be about the times in human history when technology has reshaped our world. Sounds interesting enough, but it’s not what I’m getting at.
There was also a search result that stated the fourth age is “an era for the final dependence, decrepitude, and death.” Yikes. Still not what I’m aiming for, but perhaps a little closer.
No, it occurred to me that I am entering my own, personal, Fourth Age. As I look back, I can identify two, roughly three-year periods, that encapsulated major personal transformation. The first, when I was 16 to 19-years-old, the time when I left home and headed west. The next, the years from 32 to 35, when I returned home for good. If that pivot to home was the start of my Third Age, I sense I am at the end of it.
So if I am smack-dab in the middle of my shift to the Fourth Age, what do I expect it will bring? I don’t anticipate a physical move, the return to New Orleans was always intended to be permanent. But I do hope it will contain as much reading as my first 1.5 “Ages” did. I also hope it will contain more of the special type of magic I always sensed around me, as a child growing up in this magical place. I still sense it, but the obligations of adulting (sorry to use that word) can deaden that faculty.
But most of all, I intend for my Fourth Age to contain more writing than any age that preceded it. I can think of no better way to tap into that magic and share its wonder with a weary world.