Is life half over?

Record Editorial

  • Friday, October 3, 2008 3:44am
  • Opinion

I say that a little tongue in cheek, but assuming a person lives to about 80, then I guess it is somewhat true for me. This week’s editorial is not controversial, it is simply a statement of fact. The person who is opinionated, president of the Chamber, high-school sports nut, coach, father and husband, is (oh my gosh, can I even say it?) turning 40.

The idea of turning 40 gives one the opportunity to think about many things. I went in for a physical, which I strongly urge everyone to do, to make sure everything was the way it should be. I haven’t received the results yet but trust everything is fine.

There is some measure of accomplishments and it is true material things seem less important as you get older, although big red pickup trucks are still in the realm of a “must-have.”

I have heard that some people panic when turning 40, realizing they may have felt like they wasted a good chunk of their early years. That’s not the case here, although there are things I would have liked to have done earlier than later. One example is the perceived pain that I may incur as a result of learning to wakeboard. No, I have not tried it yet but plan to soon. Of course, I can keep saying “I plan to soon” as long as I want. It’s another right that comes with age: deference of duties.

It does seem, as you approach the mid-point of life, that your stomach isn’t as tolerant of various foods as it once was. A healthy meal of buffalo wings and a few beers followed by ice cream really can cause days of problems. The whole thing forces you to evaluate your food intake differently. In fact, I have actually said no to things like cookies, something I never would have done at 20.

Driving takes on new meaning as 40 approaches. I tend not to walk short distances as often, like from the Valley Record to the post office. Instead, I fire up the diesel-guzzling truck, warm it up for a few minutes, drive around the block, over to the post office, pick up the mail and back to the Valley Record offices. The round trip is probably 15 minutes. Honestly, I could walk it in five.

I’ve also become the jerk driver that I used to hate when I was younger. I tend to drive a little slower – in the fast lane – and ride the bumper of anyone in front of me. Of course it’s more fun when your bumper is 3 feet in the air. I’ve unknowingly cut a few people off on the freeway, which generates a response that I can’t really describe here. When I was younger, I might have given a similar response. These days I just wave.

Another interesting aspect are yellow lights. I used to slam the gas pedal to the floor to get through. Now I find myself slowing down, hoping to sit at the intersection for a few uninterrupted minutes and watch the people passing by.

Raising kids slowly evolves into something different at 40, it seems. Parents become a little stupider, according to the kids, as they get older. One thing is for certain, it isn’t as big of a deal to make a fool out of yourself in front of your kids’ friends. In fact, it becomes one of those fun little things you do, just to show them you are still in control.

Spouses become more important at 40. After all, who would tell you to throw away that holey pair of underwear, or that you spilled toothpaste on the front of your shirt, or help you find your belt. Mine is probably more special than most – she even makes me eat fruit on a regular basis, for all the regular reasons.

At 40, mowing the lawn is therapeutic, not the mundane activity it was at 20. A toilet that flushes without plunging is a nice thing at 40. Of course, it wasn’t something I thought about much but in hindsight, it’s important. Watching television in bed is sure nice at 40. It gives you the opportunity to pretend you are really awake, hanging out with your spouse, but in reality it’s for more sleep.

So life is good at 40, and for those of you who might be in your 50s or 60s, you don’t seem as old anymore.


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