Now that I’m 40

There’s something about turning forty—or the anticipation thereof—that makes you think you’ll receive a sudden and heavy dose of insight and clarity. So far I feel the same as I did at 39. But something about that little 4 sitting next to that 0 did give me pause, did prompt me to contemplation… if only because that’s what I’m supposed to do as I crest that proverbial hill. These musings are hardly original, slightly incongruent, and not intended for the inside of greeting cards. Now that I’m forty…. photo

  1. I want to want to have less stuff. At first I typed out I want less stuff, which is true some of the time. Until I pick up a magazine or step into a store. Yet the desire to have less seems to be growing by the year and I am finding that I’m happier, more at peace in the long run, when I purge instead of purchase.
  2. Happily, I’ve outgrown water parks.
  3. Happily, I have not outgrown Disney World.
  4. I don’t want a tattoo. I don’t want to skydive. I don’t want to get my ears double pierced. Many of my gen X peers have checked these off their list as they hit 40 and that’s great. If you want to get it/do it… more power to you. But now that I’ve officially crossed into the not-so-very-young-anymore I know what I want and what I don’t want and I can stop contemplating if I should get that inconspicuous flower tattoo on my ankle. I shan’t.
  5. I still don’t feel like a grown-up. I thought I might at twenty. I really thought I would at thirty. I thought for sure I would at forty. Maybe this “feeling like a grownup” thing is a myth. Most days hopefully I’m acting like a grownup, at least in public.
  6. Everyone has their something: Fear. Intolerable relative/boss/neighbor. Self-doubt. Unpaid bills. Health issues. Emotional imbalance. Hormonal imbalance. Unfulfilled desires… Everyone is dealing with something. And the better I can recognize that you are dealing with something, instead of trying to get you to understand my something, the better. And much much harder since so often we tend to be preoccupied with our own something.
  7. Every human (in close proximity) will eventually disappoint me and I will, or have, eventually disappoint everyone. Ironically, embracing this reality brings a lot of freedom—freedom to embrace humanity (ie your friends and family and coworkers) a little more generously. Freedom to extend and accept grace. Freedom to move on. Freedom to enjoy the good and let go of the not so good, and not expect the world from mere humans.
  8. I care less about how others perceive me.
  9. I care more about how God sees me.
  10. Big trips, big events, big plans can be fun, but more often it’s the little things that generate joy. Kids laughing. Birds singing. My worn in, wearing thin Bible. Being with the people I love. Don’t get me wrong; I love to travel and I love really good food, but sometimes I’m happiest when I’m in my backyard sipping black coffee. The pie in the sky we’re reaching for might provide a thrill, but sometimes a good conversation will do the same. Less is often more. Like the time we took Elijah to the San Diego zoo when he was a year and a half and showed him the elephants and the tigers and giraffes. He spent most of the day chasing the chipmunks. It’s those chipmunk moments that stay with us, that wield satisfaction and prompt joy.

7 responses to “Now that I’m 40”

  1. Brava!
    I’m with you on but #3. I never grew into DW. But, maybe that’ll come by my 40.
    Glad to hear you’re enjoying black coffee again, too. Coffee outside in the summer is pretty hard to beat.

  2. Ruth Glodowski Avatar
    Ruth Glodowski

    Loved the insight in this article Rachel – I am older than you and also agree that too much stuff gets in the way of enjoying life, and the simple everyday moments are the ones we can truly enjoy!

    1. Right you are, Ruth! Thanks for reading.

  3. Nice post. I am way past 4-0 but can relate to much of what you wrote. One does not forget. Might I share a poem which I cross-stitched to ‘celebrate coming of age’. I am not the author. It’s called Yet Now at Forty.

    I thought I’d become someone I’m not and I thought I’d be somewhere different from where I am.
    I thought I’d want what I don’t and I thought I’d feel different than I do.
    I’ve learned that expectations without guidance from the Father above never do become profitable
    Yet now at forty wisdom is not quite so pale and the colors of love are blooming vividly to an I not so old.

  4. I turned 40 last year, too, and I feel the same about most of those things, too! That’s funny.

  5. Oh and I want to add mine. I’ve stopped trying to 1) get people to see my point of view, 2) give young people advice (they don’t want it, they already know everything), 3) understand why people act crazy (“Crazymaker” comes to mind and I avoid them. Life’s too short to mess with crazy.)

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