This past week I kicked off my last thirty-something birthday, and I am now living out the 40th year of my life on my way to the big 4-0. You see, I was reminded by a friend that I have completed 39 years so I’m actually living my 40th year, and although this is technically true, I’m still going with 39 if anyone asks about my age. Call me sentimental, but I think this is a very good tradition, and one I have no intention of fighting. I’m even thinking of staying 39 a little bit longer. You know, as in being 39 for another 20 years or so. I know at least one person who has been able to pull it off successfully. Eh. Ok. Maybe not.
These past few days, echoes from my past have come to visit me; advice I was given, things I said about “old people.” Some of these things are somewhat comforting, and others not so much.
“Whatever you’re doing when you’re 40 you’ll likely be doing the rest of your life.” Looking around the day it was told to me, it caused me to look forward on the timeline. What would I be doing when I was 40? Would I really want to be doing whatever that happened to be for the rest of my life? Ah, worry about that one later. I’ve plenty of time. Today: (gulp)
“Never write a book until you’re 40. Whatever you would write before then will seem immature to your experienced 40-year-old self, and you’d wish you could go back and change it with your mature perspective on life.” This advice was given by a published writer. I thought it was good advice at the time, but when I told it to someone else they said, “Hogwash. Just write. You can go back and change anything anytime you want when you get older.” I guess the thought that a reputation for bad writing because you were too immature never occurred to this guy, and come to think of it, he was never published and I don’t see any of his writings anywhere. At all.
“Before 40 you will be productive, but even babies are very productive yet we don’t really congratulate them for it. We tend to throw most of it away with our noses cringed. The years between 40 and 60 will be the most effective of your life. It’s far better to be effective than just merely very productive.” That baby analogy really hit home when I had kids. Children are, at the very least, VERY productive on any scale and on a number of different levels. They can be so very productive at the most inappropriate moments. At least mine have been, and the truth is, I know a lot of young people and twentysomethings that would also fit the description of “very productive, but not so very effective”. I wonder why that is exactly, and then I wonder why all the 40 year old effective-productive people don’t get a medal for it. I mean, come on. Someone should start a business giving medals to anyone who hits the big 4-0. I’ll be ready to pick up mine sometime around this time next year. Keep me posted.
“When you hit 40 you lose your eyesight. One day you can read labels and fine print perfectly fine, and the next day you’re reading everything holding it at a distance.” I must admit, this is another one that I never really understood. How can holding something farther away make it easier to read, especially if it is fine print? Well, low and behold, I know exactly how that works now. I’m not even actually 40 yet, and I’m wondering who flipped my switch a little early on this one, but it’s true. I suddenly noticed just the other day that the date on a penny is far easier to read when I hold it farther away, and that’s when the echo came to me. That was one I really didn’t see coming.
So, here I am, 39 years gone by and technically on my 40th year. Someone flipped my switch on the eyesight thing a little early, but that’s ok. I’ve still not actually written a book yet, but there is one in the works, and I guess it is something I can look forward to doing over the next decade or so. I still don’t know about the whole “career” thing as I don’t know if I actually have what most would consider a career, so the jury is still out on that one. I’m hoping I get a double dose of whatever it is that kicks in on the effective-productive angle, and that’s another one I won’t mind taking a little early either. As for the medal, just hold on to it for me. I’m not quite ready to put “one foot in the grave” just yet, nor am I ready to roll “over the hill” right at the moment.
That day will come, but until then, I’m going to enjoy staying thirtysomething “ahhhhhhhh, just a little bit longer.” (cue the music)