So, I’m a few days into this 40 thing now. It’s not so bad. If I can just fill every day like I have the last three – this “life after 40” thing is gonna be a breeze. Would it be so hard to hang out with a group of friends while drinking all day, followed by nightly feasts of amazing food (junk and otherwise), while participating in a series of competitions (bowling, pool, foosball and so on)? I mean, that’s a life, right?
I know it’s not realistic to live that life (if only because my friends have other lives – what’s up with that?). But, I do certainly believe that it’s possible to remember what’s truly important and spin that into every day life moving forward. For three full days (which, for me is damn near a lifetime), I didn’t check my email. I didn’t do any work. I didn’t so much as turn on my computer. And, I lived to see today.
In planning my 40th b’day, I decided that I wanted the equivalent of a two-year olds party. Two-year olds know how to live it up. They get the jumpy, big cake, crappy food, music and every friend they’ve ever met. Adults plan those parties, of course. So, when it came time for MY party – I wanted that same vibe. At one point, I even considered doing the jumpy, but weather considerations killed that dream.
It’s an amazing feeling to be surrounded by so many people who love you, support you and laugh at any number of horrific jokes. Times like these are the ones that must be remembered during those not-so-fun times. This weekend of drinking, laughing, playing and eating (a lot!) must always be remembered during long days of trying to close deals, crying kids and “what the hell is going on?” moments of insecurity. And, I was reminded of this almost as soon as I woke up.
While reading the paper this morning (and by “reading the paper,” I mean clicking on a link to USA Today on my CrackBerry), I read a horrible story about a 40-year old advertising creative who killed himself this weekend. Same age as me. Same industry as me. The dude had two kids, a wife and apparently a world of pressure that he couldn’t overcome. Man, that story hit hard. For starters, I used to read about 40 year-olds and think they were old. This was the first time, truly, that I realized that I’m actually 40 (which is great, by the way). But, beyond that, I felt so badly for this guy and, of course, his family.
I had just spent three days constantly surrounded by friends (literally, as three or four were sleeping all over my house). I had just spent three days laughing so hard my body hurt. And, I had spent three days basically telling 40 go eff itself. I wish this guy and I could have traded places just for a day. Or, at least, I wish he could have been at the party. He’d be making his kids breakfast this morning, instead.
One thing I’m pretty good at is stepping back and looking at events as they’re happening. From birthday parties to weddings, I’ve always been able to take a few moments to appreciate the milestone. To revel, not so much in my own celebration, but in the celebration of my friends. I love knowing that, while these people are together “for me,” they are having a great time on their own. I love watching the conversations, the expressions and, in this case, the competitions on the pool tables.
But, there was something special about this milestone. Like my wedding day – it just seemed bigger. It seemed to have more meaning for some reason. Can’t quite put my finger on it. Yes, 40 is just a number. But, damnit, it’s a milestone and I’m going to love it and I’m going to live it. I don’t even know the guy who died, but I’m taking his memory with me moving forward. I’m going to remember him when I [filtered word] about something that is truly trivial. I’m going to remember him when I feel like complaining. And, I’m going to remember him when things are going great as well.
I’m only two days into this 40 thing, but I really can’t wait for day three, four, five, six and forever. And, I can’t wait until the 41st party. It’s gonna be epic.