On to Roaring Forties? – Random Thoughts on Becoming a Quadragenarian
1) Forty is the new Thirty
When my father turned 40 in 1990, I bought him a naughty comic book featuring drawings poking fun at the midlife crisis and middle-aged life in general.
28 years later it’s my time to hit the magic number, and I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it. At 40, my father had three kids, built a house and was an old man to my youthful eyes.
While I recently made my foray into home ownership, I only married two years ago and am as far as I am aware without offspring. On good days, I could pass for 34 and feel like, too. Age feels somewhat relative and tied to the circumstances.
Maybe 40 is really the new 30? Maybe times changed? Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z seem to agree.
Or maybe it was just the perspective of a child, and my dad felt the same as me on his 40th Birthday? I will ask him!
2) The Battle Stays the Same – But the Hill Gets Steeper
Aging is no joke, and just in time for my 40th birthday, my body deemed it necessary to make that very clear. A pinching hip and a first looming root canal are likely just the beginning of a new era in the epic struggle to stay in shape (see for example this article)
If my well-documented struggle to improve my performance was an uphill battle already, the hill is going to get quite a bit steeper from here. Ropes and crampons anyone?
3) A General Theory of Relativity
It might be just me, but did anybody else realized that the earth’s rotation has been accelerating quite significantly in recent years? Yes, gravity seems to be stronger and stronger, an effect felt on some body parts more than others, but I was referring more to the rotational effect on time.
Especially in the past two or three years, time runs in fast forward. It is already September, and I have almost no recollection of how we got to this point in the year that fast!
I hypothesize that there is an age-related relatively to the dimension time.
When you are young, you are forward-looking. You can’t wait to graduate from high school; you can’t wait to start your first job and make a career. You can’t wait to meet the right partner. This level of anticipation slows the perceived speed of time down significantly. A year in high school can last forever.
In your 30th and 40th that’s where a lot happens. You juggle tons of different responsibilities, try to stay afloat at work and build a family. The day never has enough hours to get it all done, and the week never has enough days. You go to the office on Monday morning with the best intentions to get something done, and a split second later it is Friday night. To be honest, occasionally this feeling is outright scary. I am curious to hear if this phenomenon is widely observed or a unique to my weird brain.
4) Between Ambitions and Shifting Priorities
I have always been a very ambitious person. From early childhood on I always “dreamed big” but saw these dreams more as visualizations of the future than alternate reality. Dreams were my motivation to excel and not a refuge.
Reaching 40 and statistical the halfway point of my life got me in a reflective mood. Yes, I still daydream, and I still have a lot of goals to achieve, but as it seems forty-year-olds dream differently.
If you graduated high school set out for the moon, 20 years later you have a pretty good idea on how many degrees you are off your original course.
Some of the loftiest targets slowly seem too unrealistic to even dream about.
And to be honest, from the perspective of a man in the forties, some of the original ambitions are also looking much less appealing than they had ten or twenty years ago. At 40 you begin to think that a stable orbit around the earth is probably better than a rough moon landing.