I was in Chicago last week when I realized that I’m a cliché. Like every slightly neurotic, overly-self-regarding character in movies or airport novels, I am becoming obsessed with the fact that I’ll be 40 this year.
I think I’m being honest when I say that I’m not really all that worried about this milestone. I have a happy life and a family that I’m proud of and there’s a lot that I’m looking forward to in the next few years. I’m not sitting around pining for my lost youth–in fact, I don’t think I was very good at being 20 years old. I may have been middle aged all along, and I’m ok with that.
But when I was in Chicago I kept hearing the word “forty” coming out of my mouth: I’ll be 40 this year. Sometimes it came up in appropriate ways, such as, “I’ll be 40 this year, so I really need to be thoughtful about my career and my plans for the future.” But sometimes I brought it up as a complete non sequitur: “I’ll have the pad thai and I’ll be 40 this year.” What? Obviously, it’s on my mind more than I thought.
I also find that I’m constantly on the lookout for things I can blame on my advancing age, such as a gray hair, a hangover, a sore knee, the strangely papery skin under my eyes, or my unwillingness to put up with people who I find silly. Some of those probably are age related. Others may have been issues all along, but it’s only now that I have somewhere to put the blame. This is a slippery slope, isn’t it? Next thing you know I’ll be spending weeks on the couch eating cookies and blaming the whole thing on a birthday I haven’t reached yet.
Anyway, my vow is to just enjoy this year and all the ones that follow. Gray hairs and achy joints may keep coming, but hopefully I’ll get a little wisdom along the way as well. Maybe enough to stop talking about my age all the time, because I sound like a crazy person.