Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂
My Feelings on Turning 40
I remember when my Dad was 40. As was the tradition in our family he got given a gold Rotary watch, I’m not sure why but he seemed to like it, it was a big thing. Back then (I was 10) it seemed a long way off. Well, it happened to me a little while back too, suddenly and without warning, I found myself 40 which was a shock. I did try my best to have an existential experience – it being a sort of half way point of adult life – but found myself unable. This year I’m 40, it’s as much a fact as unpredictable weather and losing one’s keys, and next year I’ll be 41 (I hope).
I think it’s centred around me not really feeling like this is a mid point. Yes, if I’m lucky, I’ll make it to 80, but that would be another 40 years as an adult and that’s not what I’ve had so far. Have I even been the same person in the 40 years I’ve had so far? I don’t think so.
My first decade was pretty good fun, I’ve mythologised it into an analogue of 5 go mad in Staffordshire these days but I’m sure it wasn’t all like that. I remember lots of outdoor play, dens, rope swings and the like. I definitely climbed a lot of trees as I have scars to remind me of the fact. It can’t have all been like that though. I do seem to remember some rainy days that seemed to last a million years, there were some notable punishments in there somewhere and some rather odd experiences. I still, to do this day, don’t know why I trimmed the cat’s whiskers, today I find the notion deplorable but at 3 I thought it a rather good idea and the cat did not suffer too badly though he was grumpy thereafter.
Then came the teens, that was all truly awful. Too young to make good decisions, too old to want decisions made for me, utterly bereft of any impulse control and (worse) dress sense. Yes, teens were awful, my school days were surely not the best days of my life for no other reason than I was there and I was an idiot at the time. Never have I felt so awkward and unsure of myself.
I thought I had the answer in my 20s and some things did go well. The job went well, I met a great girl and had some good times. Unfortunately, I wasn’t smart enough to realise that the good times have to stop during the week. I spent most of that decade hammered and I did not emerge a better person for it. Truth be told, when I wasn’t hammered I was no less unsure or awkward than I’d been in my teens. So the external aspects of my life went quite well, literally everything else was a mess.
It was in my 30s that I really began to know myself and learn first to live, and then to like what I saw. That’s when I began to get some sense of peace and real happiness in my life. I’d been lucky in that the great girl had stayed and I still had the great job. So, I didn’t have to start completely from the ground up again but in many ways, I view this as the start of my adulthood.
So I stand at 40, contemplating a life half done and I really don’t know what to expect. The brief for this post was to write things I like about being 40 and things I don’t and perhaps put a bucket list in. I can’t do that. What I like about 40 is I’m still here and seem to get happier as the years go on. What I don’t like about 40 is that my wife makes fun of me for being 40 (when surely she must have seen it coming, or maybe she didn’t, I don’t know) and my bucket list is pointless. In the last 3 years, I’ve done more than I ever imagined. I’ve run crazy obstacle races, I’ve got good at them, I’ve qualified for the European Championships, who knows what is next. I run a mile faster than I did at 35 and I run more every day than I have ever done. Who knows what’s going to happen next?
More to the point though, who cares. As long as whatever I’m doing is what I want to be doing and I don’t get swamped by nostalgic ennui then I think I’ll probably be ok. The best day of my life should (mostly) be the one I’m having right now.