Sunday will be my 40th birthday. I’ve spent a few weeks thinking in the back of my mind that I should say something here for posterity. Something maybe about who I am and where I am at this milestone. But for the life of me, I can’t think of much worth sharing.
I’ve been in kind of a malaise for the past few months as this milestone has loomed out there like a big dead end.
Neither of my parents lived to be old. My mom passed away six days after her 50th birthday. My dad passed away at sixty. I’ve been wondering if they would have faced their final decade or two differently had they known it’d be their last? Will I face mine differently with my own mortality constantly hanging around the next corner? No. They wouldn’t have, and neither will I. Nor would you, I suspect. One of things that separates us from other animals is that we’re aware of our own mortality. Turns out that doesn’t make a difference. We live our lives each day as though we’ll live forever.
Ignoring the genetic risk for a shortened life, I’d say I’m probably around the mid-way mark. Life Expectancy in the U.S. is currently 78.37 (which is 51st place among all nations. Life expectancy is only 31.88 in Swaziland, though. So there’s that), but I know of plenty of people well into their 80s who could easily pass for 60. With advances in medical science, my generation will likely make it comfortably into our 90’s on average, maybe longer. If the singularity movement is correct, we’ll achieve immortality in 2045 which makes this all moot.
So how’s mid life working out for me? Meh! I’m not at a crisis point… yet.
I started training for a marathon this year. That’s sucky and boring. Running actually makes me feel older. I feel slow and old and fat. I’m not sure what this runner’s high is that they talk about. Most days it just pisses me off.
I’ve got a fast red sports car. That’s an indicator of mid life trouble, right? When I want to feel my oats, I can go crank up the tunes and drive really fast. I like that. Most days, though, I slog through traffic at 25 mph listening to audiobooks or podcasts or NPR.
No risk here of running off with a young hottie. Let’s face it, I’m way too antisocial for that. Also, I love my wife. We’ve got a great little family unit, and I draw tremendous joy from that part of my life.
No risk of quitting my job to become a cowboy. (My dad did that.) I’m one of those rare people who actually likes their job. I get paid to go to a place everyday and do stuff that I’d do for free. I’m constantly challenged to move outside of my comfort zone and to master new things.
So what then? I’ll pass this birthday, the way I pass every day. I’ll have a meal I enjoy with the people I love (Lisa and Jacob). There’ll probably be cake. There’ll probably be booze. The next morning, like every other morning, I’ll get up and move forward into another day. Always one day farther from home and one day closer to the grave. There’ll be a new thing to learn, a new obstacle to overcome, a new experience to be had. That’s a pretty good life.