I turn 40 in a few weeks, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot, but probably not in the ways you’d expect. The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 81 years old, and turning 40 puts me firmly into being Middle Aged. I don’t mind that. It gives you a free pass to do things that don’t seem to be socially acceptable in your teens, 20s and 30s. There’s a grand feeling of Not Giving a Crap that accompanies 40, and I’ve been cultivating that for a while. I’m really quite looking forward to it, turning 40 that is. There should be some sort of Scouting badge to go with it. I’d proudly wear that on a sash.
My mind doesn’t roam the hall of horrors that some people consider aging to be. Gray hair? I’ve been working on those since I was 28. Wrinkles? I have carefully cultivated a quality layer of fat to keep things plumped up. And even if the wrinkles run rampant over my face (and other body parts), I don’t really care, mainly because I don’t have time to stand around gazing in a mirror. There’s too many things I’d rather be doing that comparing what I’ve got with the airbrushed perfection presented in print ads. These days, I look into it to make sure there’s nothing on my face that shouldn’t be there (like chocolate syrup) and that my hair is combed. Shoot, I don’t even have the time and patience to blow dry my hair any more. If it’s clean and combed, I’m good.
No, what I’ve been thinking about is growth. Not just physical growth, but continuing to live a life that expands beyond known horizons and presents new challenges. In the first two years of a child’s life, they achieve 50% of their physical growth and 70% of their brain growth. If you ever doubted the importance of exposing a baby to new experiences, foods, language, and physical challenges, that right there is reason enough to give them a richer world. And think about how many people you know whose relationships, and their relationship to the world at large, never progresses past that of the average 16 year old. You know the type I’m talking about: perpetual teenagers, thriving on turmoil. Being a teenager was AWFUL, I can’t imagine willingly choosing to keep that high school dynamic alive for the rest of one’s life. *Shudder* Growing and stretching and rising to new challenges is a choice. It’s rarely easy (that’s why they’re challenges), but it’s there if we choose to take advantage of it.
I am not only happy to be turning 40, I’m embracing it, and have decided to push myself a bit. If the first two years of our life are spent in unprecedented growth, why not do that with the start of the second half of our lives as well? That’s the plan. I’m working on a list of 40 Things to accomplish in my 40th year. I’ll blog about it and keep track and share the results. However, what I am asking for from friends and family and complete strangers are some suggestions for the list. I’ve got the list started and I’ve been scouring the interweb for ideas, to see what other people have done with their milestone birthdays. I’ve looked at Bucket Lists, Things to Do Before You Die, and 40 Thing Before Turning 40.
In looking at all those lists, it occurred to me what amazing things I’ve already done, things many people put off or are just too scared to do. Cut off a lot of hair? Check. Tattoo? Check. Gone to Europe? Multiple checks. Been on TV? Been on the radio? Been in the newspaper? Check, check, check. Stood on the Great Wall of China? Check. Karaoke? Done, many times over. Public speaking? Check! Overcome fear of heights? Every time I stand on the second level of the mall, step on a escalator or walk on a foot bridge. (By the way, the fear never goes away, all I do is smack it around don’t let it win.) Met celebrities? Check. It sounds stupid and entitled, but I”m really struggling to find enough things for my list I can accomplish within a 12-month time period. Give me your best ideas! Or perhaps your second best in case you’re saving the best ones for when you turn 40. I’m putting it out there in the greater community and asking for help in making my 40th year an Annus mirabilis, a year of miracles. Leave a comment at the bottom of this post or give me a shout-out on Facebook. Here are a few guidelines to consider:
1. Nothing really expensive. We live a modest life with a modest income. It isn’t within my means to take a Round the World Cruise or spend $500 on a bottle of champagne or ride on The Orient Express (the train, not the roller coaster).
2. Forget about skydiving, bungee jumping, swinging bridges, or extreme sports. I am not now, nor will I ever be, an adrenaline junkie. I make my fear of heights submit when necessary, but I see no point in upping my anxiety by taking it out at random intervals and poking it with a stick.
3. If it’s a one-off suggestion, all the better. I’m goal oriented and love to tick things off a list. If it can be accomplished in the span of an afternoon, even better.
4. Nothing illegal or immoral. No stealing of traffic signs or taking up Robert Redford on that million dollar deal.
I’m adding a page to this blog site that will detail the list and provide links to blog posts as I accomplish each thing on the list. I’ll be revealing the final list in August, once the big 4-0 hits my calendar. Stay tuned!