A few minutes before midnight I sat down in a dark room and thought about the events of the past day. The last vestiges of my birthday were slipping away. It wasn’t just any birthday, it was my fortieth.
Forty years of wandering the earth trying to figure out what the hell am I doing here had led to this very moment. As a responsible blogger I thought that it was incumbent upon me to share the distilled wisdom of the ages with my readers, present and future.
So I ambled over to the computer and began to write a rambling and garbled post that never quite got its legs beneath it. It took all of thirty seconds to decide that I didn’t want to run it and I deleted it.
I had intended to take another shot at it last night, but after the Mother’s Day marathon I just didn’t have it in me. Wife, mother, mother-in-law, sisters who are mothers and a mother of day sucked the life out of me.
But you my lucky reader had nothing to worry about because here I am writing this post now. It is better, tastier and contains all sorts of healthy nutrients that will make you grow up to be big and strong.
Forty doesn’t feel all that much different to me, age is a number. I won’t lie and say that I am in better shape now than I was at twenty.
At twenty I was a beast. That is not hyperbole. My body fat was somewhere around 9%. I could curl 150, bench press over 300 and I could run for as long as I needed to without fear of how my back or knees would feel later.
Back then I had the benefit of not being responsible for anyone or anything besides myself. I rarely missed a day at the gym and when I was there it was for several hours at a time. On a side note I would have loved being able to use my iPod. It is so much more convenient than that huge walkman I had strapped to my arm.
Ok, so we have established that physically I am not in the shape that I was then. That is not great, but it is not the end of the world either. Mentally/emotionally I am a million times tougher than I was then and that is worth a lot. Life doesn’t always work out the way that you think it will and you need to have some steel in your guts to help you through the rough moments.
A dear friend called to wish me a happy birthday as well as to tease me about my advanced age, in a month I’ll return the favor. During our conversation he told me that he thinks that I know more people who have died young than anyone else he knows.
He is probably right, but I wish that he wasn’t. I can run off a list of around 16 names of friends and people that I knew in passing that died from cancer, drunk driving, bike accident and two suicides.
It is only logical to assume that the older we get the more likely it is that we’ll have these stories to share. But I am not part of the clergy and not in a profession where I have more exposure to this part of life so I suspect that I probably do know more than most.
It has had an impact upon me and lately I am feeling the effects more than in the past. I am far more focused on trying to spend time with the people who are important to me and to do those things that I have always wanted to do.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t any reason to believe that I am dying now or that I will do so for many years to come. My paternal grandfather lived to be 92 and I am grateful to still have my maternal grandparents, 95 and counting. In fact to quote my paternal grandfather, I intend to defenestrate death.
In more colorful terms, when death comes I am going to kick him in the balls, poke him in the eyes and then throw his bony ass out the window headfirst. I have got far too much to do.
Anyway, as I sat there in the dark I smiled and thought about all the good things in my life because there is a lot. But it was a bit of a bittersweet smile, because even though I have much to be thankful for there are challenges.
Challenges that make me shake my head and question whether I have accomplished enough for someone my age because sometimes I wonder.
That twenty year old I referred to would have laughed at the old man. It would have started as a deep rumble in his chest and erupted into gales of laughter. And then the old man would have used him to mop the floor. I may not be in the same shape, but I am a hell of a lot meaner and far more cunning.
On a serious note, at twenty I had no clue about so many things. Life was simpler then and that has its benefits. On a Saturday night my girlfriend and I would have kept busy until just before dawn, or I would have been out with the boys, until just before dawn.
I am still a nightowl, but given the presence of little people in the house I pay more attention to my hours. I am sure that my fellow parents appreciate that. The kids love to be up early, regardless of how much or how little sleep I have had.
So here I am, the forty year-old man at the computer, now what. Stay tuned and maybe I’ll answer that question.