Friday, April 15, 2011

On the Precipice of 40

I will turn 40 years old in 29 days. Several of my close friends have already crossed this barrier into the unknown of "middle age." Does 40 even count as middle age anymore? If you listen to people in their 50s and early 60s, it doesn't. "Life begins at 40" has been a popular saying since the bulk of Baby Boomers began to turn 40 two decades ago. I think Baby Boomers latched onto that saying out of a shear sense of denial, which has defined much of the average Baby Boomer's existence.

One of the reasons I think turning 40 doesn't mean much more to me than any other birthday is the fact that I don't have children so I can't compare my lifetime milestones to theirs: I can't say, "Oh I remember when I started kindergarten" while watching my own 5-year-old hesitantly entering elementary school for the first time. I also can't say "Oh, I remember when I got my driver's license" as I watch my own 16-year-old tear out of the driveway. I don't have anything or anyone in my daily life to compare my aging process to, which in my mind keeps me thinking, "I don't feel like I'm 39 and 11/12, I feel like I'm 22." Which has both it's benefits and it's drawbacks. On this point I think I have inherited that Baby Boomer denial mechanism.

Being close to turning 40 has made me question some of my physical abilities, however. I often wonder if I don't feel like taking the puppy for a daily walk because I'm 16 years older than the last time I was responsible for walking a puppy, or if it's due to something more sinister like depression. It's hard to tell some days.

As I am a self-disclosed hopeless romantic and enjoy a heavy dose of schmaltz to mark certain milestones, I imagine I will do a lot of reflecting on my life thus far over the next 29 days. All I know for sure is that I have no regrets, because if I hadn't done what I did at any given time, I wouldn't be who and where I am today. Whether I'm 40, 20, or 60 years old, that much I know for sure.

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