My Mom sent me an e-mail this morning that began, “I know what I was doing 40 years ago. I also know what you were doing, probably crying. Well, we both made it this far.”
I have mixed feelings about reaching the big four-oh. On the one hand I lead a comfortable life, I enjoy my job, I have a great girlfriend, great friends, and more to do with my time than I have time. And I still have all my fingers.
On the other hand, the older I get the more I feel like certain things are slipping away from me. It’s unlikely I’ll have a significant writing career at this point (and there’s a whole post I could do about my writing skills, aspirations, and failures), and I regret that my drawing skills have lain fallow over the last 15 years.
Of course, there are also things that I feel like I “should” have done, such as travelled more widely, but I don’t really regret not having done because they’re not things I’m really into.
Age 40 is something of a landmark age: If you haven’t had kids yet and want to, you’re probably thinking seriously about getting moving on it. On the other hand, if you had kids in your early 20s, then they’re starting to head off to college around this time. 40 is an upper bound for even most world-class athletes to compete at the highest level, so what about the rest of us? Not to mention that in past centuries, many people were lucky even to make it this far. Those factors, combined with it being a round number which our monkey-brains like to treat as something special, make this birthday a little melancholy for me.
But I really shouldn’t be gloomy about it, because really things are pretty good. Turning 30 seems like it was a long time ago now, so I have lots of time ahead of me, too. And maybe I’ll get to some of that stuff over the next decade.
Plus, I managed to keep my birthday under wraps and it looks like I’ll escape being suddenly embarrassed by all my cow-orkers today, the way we embarrassed my friend James on his last birthday. Thank goodness!
Sure I wouldn’t mind being 30 again. But this ain’t bad.