“Forty is the new twenty!” they say. Whoever they are, apparently didn’t have children.
This last week, I celebrated my fortieth birthday. It didn’t feel like forty to be honest with you. It felt like… a weekday. I went to work, came home, washed the dishes, went to dinner with the family, went to bed. It really didn’t feel like anything at all. In fact, when I got home, the first thing out of my four-year-old’s mouth wasn’t “Happy Birthday,” it was “Daddy! Where’s your phone?”
But the five- and ten-year anniversaries are supposed to be the big ones, so I took a few moments to meditate on the little events that make up my life. I suppose we all do this from time to time, or play Candy Crush to avoid thinking about our lives. I figure it’s six of one, half a dozen of… Ooh, I just got five in a row!
Another thing I noticed was that my energy, contrary to forty being the new twenty, is not that of a twenty-year-old. All-nighters are not a thing to look forward to. I don’t want to rock and roll, bop with you baby or drive it all night long. The only thing I really want to do all night long is sleep! The only reason I’ll stay up all night is if my shift at work calls for it or if one of my kids are sick, and even in those cases, you’d better not ask me to do any calculus, philosophical thinking or tying my shoes. At forty, an all-night shift comes at the cost of reduced mental sharpness; roughly the equivalent to watching a twelve-hour marathon of Dora the Explorer.
Also, as I was never athletic in the first place, forty is no age to be picking up full-contact sports. When the guys at my church or around my neighborhood ask me to go play some flag football, I politely tell them “I can’t. I’m forty.” They don’t understand that I can get a sprained ankle just going into the huddle before a play. That actually might not have anything to do with forty. That might just be me.
But forty isn’t always a bad thing. I believe I’m due for a mid-life crisis. According to all of the eighties TV shows, this is the time my family goes into hock because I just bought a muscle car or motorcycle or major change of career. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my eye on a Spyder for some time, and I’m just looking for a really bad excuse to buy one. Can I buy one? Heavens, no! But I figure I’ve only got one use of the “It’s a mid-life crisis!” card, so I may as well make it count.
There was one, deeper point to my reflections on turning forty, though.
(DISCLAIMER! I’m about to get all touchy-feely and even a little religious. It takes a bit of an open mind to breech this next paragraph. If you are atheist or squeamish around that Charlie Church down the street, you may want to skip this next part, even though it is the crux of the article)
If you’ve read my author’s bio, you know that I lost my daughter about three years before this post. She was seven, and it was hard on my entire family. In my religion, we believe that small children who die early on are granted immediate exaltation (or, in simpler terms, they get the golden ticket, a one-way pass through the pearly gates, go straight to heaven, do not pass GO, don’t worry about the $200; you can’t take it with you). In the years following her death, I thought much on this doctrine. I wondered why the children get this additional clause. It feels good to think of them reaching a happier place without further effort, but what if it was something more?
The more I thought about it the more I thought maybe the reason why little children who die are given such a straight-shot is part compensation on missing out on the life they otherwise would have been given. The rest of us have to deal with depression, disappointment, sickness, frustration and politicians. But for all the frustrations that face us everyday, I often wonder if those who never experience them actually envy us. As if our lives are made up of more than the distractions we use to put off the daily pains. Maybe the lessons we learn and growing we do through the sorrows and pains we go through are something bigger than the horrible they are today. They still suck, don’t get me wrong, but maybe those children we’ve lost wish they could go through them, too. Maybe our troughs and lows really are more valuable than we think they are.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to add unnecessary depth to this article, but, as I said, the ten-year anniversaries tend to set you into a meditative state.
Speaking of meditation, I’ve been thinking about that Spyder for some time. I think I’d like to see what it would look like in red… Three cheers for a mid-life crisis!