A few years ago, during one of those Jimmy Buffett moods that my iPod frequently experiences, I decided to write about turning forty. For most of my life, I had heard so much about the big 4-0. I'd heard it was way more significant than 30, and for some it was more traumatic than turning 50. I had seen others cross that threshold, and although a few of them hardly batted an eyelash at the end of their fourth decade of life, most found it to be fairly momentous.
I was curious as to just how it would affect me, if at all. My 30th birthday had been a bigger deal to my friends, family and (now former) in-laws than it was to me. That could have had something to do with my having had bigger fish to fry, that year, as my first marriage was grinding to an end, but whatever the reason, it came and went without a whole lot of special attention from me. Thirty felt exactly as twenty-nine had felt.
But what of this "big 4-0?" I had made a very different life for myself, by the time I had hit 39. I had a remarried - my soul mate, this time - bought a little house, paid off all the debts of my former life and vastly improved my employment situation in many ways. I knew myself a lot better by then, and I was almost looking forward to turning 40, if for no other reason than a simple curiosity. Would it affect me in surprising ways, and far more significantly than I could imagine?
Would I be depressed? Maybe.
Would I be motivated to shift my life into another gear? Maybe, but not likely.
Would I have a mid-life crisis and get divorced and buy a convertible? No need, as I had already long ago been there and done that.
Would I abandon my meandering "career" path and at long last launch myself in pursuit of my dreams? Maybe!
Would I be angry? Probably.
Would I look back with remorse at 40 years less than brilliantly-spent? Probably not, but I wouldn't rule it out.
Would I be well? No. No, I would not be well. At all.
Couple the sudden and simultaneous onset of three moderate-to-severe health problems (it was as if my warranty expired at age 39 1/2, and everything broke down the next day) with my preexisting condition of slackeriness, and -whoosh- went my 40th birthday, breezing past me like a high school girl in the hallway, who is making damn sure I see how much she is not talking to me.
* I feel I should mention at this point that I am not a slacker in the true sense of the word. In fact, I'm hardly a slacker at all. I can hold down a job (although I have been laid off a lot), and when I'm at work, I work very hard. I take ownership and responsibility of - and pride in - my work, no matter what the job. I pay my bills and taxes and stay out of trouble. Even during my layoffs, I joke about being an "unemployed layabout," but that's really never the case. I do have some slacker-like tendencies, like a preference for rest over activity, but that's about as far as I can really take the slacker label. However, I need an excuse for not taking a good hard look at forty until more than halfway through my 45th year, and "I got sick" isn't going to cut it.
So. From time to time, when I need a break from writing about hoboes or other fun and fictional things, I'll post some drivel-y bits about my thoughts and feelings on the Big 4-0 -- with the benefit of an ever-increasing amount of hindsight.
Stick with me - it might be more fun than it sounds, and with any luck, I can wrap it up before I turn 50.