I woke up today and realized that my 40th birthday is officially less than a month away. Part of me can’t wait.
I was excited to turn 30. It was 31 – being in my 30s – that I had a problem with. I kind of feel the same way with 40. I’m not that freaked out about it. It’s something of a milestone.
Thirty for me brought a perceived credibility. As a consultant/freelance marketing guy with his own company, 30 allowed me to say things like, “With a decade of experience, blah, blah, blah.” (Blah, blah, blah, being the more formal, marketing-speak of yadda, yadda, yadda.) Thirty meant that I had lived a little, but still had lots of time left to do things like write a book, buy a Harley, get married, buy a house, have a kid, start another new business, travel and climb Mt. Everest.
I didn’t manage to climb Mt. Everest in the last decade (and didn’t really want to), but in reflecting on my personal mental list of “things to do before you turn 40,” I didn’t do too badly. Maybe that’s why the idea of February 23, 2008, isn’t quite as daunting as it could be. Maybe that’s why there doesn’t seem to be a need for some kind of freakout midlife crisis. (Well, that and the fact that I’ve potentially alleviated the need for a big blowout at 40 by having a series of smaller crises for the last 15 years.)
While walking the dog in pouring rain this morning (which was surprisingly satisfying and kinda fun), I thought about the fact that I’m changing demographics in less than a month. I can now play in “over-40” sports leagues (and be the young guy). I can no longer check the “35-39” box on surveys asking for my age. My health insurance premiums are going to go up (though I dread the physical where Dr. Fingers tickles my prostate).
Then I thought about the concept of being “middle aged.” At 40, is that what I’m supposed to be? My father-in-law is 86 – more than twice my soon-to-be age. So, in that respect, I’m not exactly “at the middle.” Then, tragically, I thought about Heath Ledger, who passed away at 28. His middle age was 14. Obviously, he didn’t know that.
I guess the point is that it doesn’t matter if we’re 30, 31, 40, 41, 86 or 14. Life is just that…life. We’re alive and should honor that gift by taking each day and living it to the best of our abilities. Does that mean we need to buy a Harley, climb Mt. Everest, or start a new business everyday? No. It merely means that at the end of the day, when head hits pillow, you can close your eyes and sleep peacefully with the knowledge that today was a day well lived.
I tend to give too much credit to people who “chase their dreams.” Or, get wrapped up in the passions of artists and other creative people. I tend to give those kinds of people more “props” for “going for it” in the face of obstacles.
But, the fact is, why shouldn’t the dude who simply works 9-5 everyday at his “head down” job get just as much consideration for “a live well lived?” I mean, who am I to say that he’s not “living the dream?” His dream isn’t my dream and I need to get better about celebrating that guy as well. If he’s doing what he wants to be doing…well, more power to him, right? I guess there’s wisdom in more years.
Who gives a crap if I’m turning 40? It just means I’ve put in some good time in this world. It means that I’ve learned a few things. It means that I’ve done some things right and have also made some huge mistakes and have done some things wrong. So what? That’s living. You know what else? I don’t know what “middle age” means, either. The middle of what? I kinda feel like I’m more at the beginning of figuring things out than I am somewhere in the middle (or worse…toward the end.).
So, yes…Time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking – into the future. I’m kinda glad. I mean if it stopped right now I’d be 39 and would miss out on one hell of a great party in 20-something days.