In exactly one week, I will be forty years old. Forty. 4-OH. I would deny it and pretend it isn’t happening, except for the fact that I have been talking and bitching about it for almost two years now. And it’s finally here.

     I can remember my mother spending the whole day crying when she turned forty, little did she know that barely two years later, she would be a grandmother. I don’t expect that I will spend the day crying, but I have to admit, I do find it rather startling. Being forty doesn’t really bother me, it’s just the whole not being able to say that I am in my thirties that is unsettling. Lying about one’s age is a deceit as old as time, and I have chosen not to participate. It’s kind of like counterfeit currency, or bald men wearing hats on first dates, or ugly guys driving topless jeeps. Sooner or later, people always find out the truth. And they are usually pissed.

     I keep hearing that 40 is the new 20. Great guns, I hope not! I was an idiot when I was twenty! I’ve earned this semi-wisdom, I want to enjoy it. When I was twenty, I thought that I knew everything. Now that I’m forty, I am fully aware that I haven’t a clue. About anything. And that’s okay. It’s terribly freeing to admit that even though you’ve spent four decades learning stuff, the amount of stuff that you still don’t know will always be greater.

     I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions, but for my milestone birthday, I decided to make a few changes. I moved into a different bedroom in my house in an effort to welcome change. I made a vow to stop wearing pajama bottoms in public, no matter how convenient. And I decided that it was finally time to stop being so hard on myself. I have always been my own worst enemy, and let me tell you, I can be a mean bitch.

     Lying in bed the other night, I was playing the Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Game. You know the one, that game where you berate yourself with thoughts of, “If only
I had done this…”, or “If only I had succeeded at that…” It’s a frustrating, painful, and self-destructive past time. I tend to play it most often at night, after a long or especially tiring day, when my defenses are down and I can inflict maximum damage. Finally, I just asked myself, “To what end?” What’s the point of beating myself up? It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t bring anyone back into my life. It sure as hell doesn’t take any of my problems away. It is simply what its name implies. Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda. Nothing more.

     The final thing that I decided I must change, is my tendency to spend my life waiting. Waiting for what, I have no idea, but it seems to be the way I go about my days. I’m not sure if I am waiting for good things to finally start happening, or if I am merely expecting the other shoe to fall. Well, guess what pigeon? That shoe is gonna fall whether you are waiting for it or not. The trick is not to stand looking up so that it hits you square on the nose. Maybe it’s time I start making the good things happen for myself, rather than waiting for them to show up and ring the doorbell.

     It’s probably a good thing too. Now that I am one week from forty, I think my hearing is starting to go. I probably wouldn’t hear the doorbell anyway.

Happy Almost Birthday to Me,

scott j