The title of this column was inspired by A.A. Milne (author of the Winnie-the-Pooh books), and his child’s verse collection Now We Are Six. Some might call my title a homage, but I prefer the more honest and straightforward term: knock-off. Besides, homage is officially on my list of most hated words—at least, it is when the “h” goes silent.
A.A. Milne inspired this column’s title; its content relates to the simple fact that this year, I’m turning 40. The big four-oh, or whatever your preferred slang—though after seeing the movie Lincoln, I think I prefer the more elegant “two score” instead of “40.” Even better is that when I hit 60, I’ll have three scores in, making the hat trick.
Some people get freaked out about turning 40, but it doesn’t feel like that big of a deal to me. I’m not usually very conscious of my age; most times you’d get a quicker answer to the question “Pete, how old are you?” by using one of those online people search options instead of asking me directly.
Still, it’s impossible not to be aware of the passage of time—there’s nothing like raising young kids to reduce one’s mental functioning to a child’s level while simultaneously aging the body at double speed. And just in case I forget that with every passing moment, the child-parent balance of power is shifting (and not in my favor), my son occasionally puts on his Darth Vader costume and informs me in a prerecorded James Earl Jones voice: “Your powers are weak, old man.”
Actuarially speaking, 40 can get complicated. (Actually, just saying “actuarially” is pretty complicated, in itself.) The most recent tables for life expectancy by age give me another 38 years, which would mean I’ve already passed the midpoint of life. But according to other tables that somehow seem much more convincing and trustworthy, I’ve got till age 86, which means I’m not due for a mid-life crisis until age 43. So stay tuned. After all, nobody wants to peak too early.
Forty seems a good age, overall. Old enough to have some pride, and some regrets, but not too old to look to the future for better days. I’m old enough to remember what life was like way back in 15 B.C. (Before Children), before cable television, cellphones or the internet became ubiquitous, but I’m still young enough to have my health, without too much pharmaceutical assistance. Being 40 also gives me a little more street cred to complain about things, even if I’m not yet at the age of a proper curmudgeon. (Some people are just savants when it comes to complaining.)
Maybe my forties will be a less-crazy decade than my thirties. A few weeks ago I slept for 8 hours, 2 days in a row, for the first time in years, and the next day everything seemed so much slower and more relaxed, like being on tranquilizers or in the South. Maybe that’s my first hint of life in my forties?
No, don’t worry, 40+ year olds. I have no illusions about having entered a decade of dull. I fully expect that life will continue to spray-paint graffiti and obscenities on my walls occasionally, and I, in turn, will continue to stand by with a power washer, ready to blast them clean.
Three dozen and four years ago (yeah, that just doesn’t have the same ring to it), I came into this world. And the fact is that, actuarial tables and average lifespans aside, I have no idea how long I’ll be around.
Hmmm… now I’m kind of scared to go outside. Maybe it is worth taking some time to celebrate being here, in the moment, 40 or not.
In lieu of gifts, buy a copy of my book.
Peter Dabbene lives and writes in Hamilton. His website is peterdabbene.com. His new book “Spamming the Spammers” (with Dieter P. Bieny) is available in print at amazon.com, for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch at iTunes.com, or for the Nook at bn.com.