Tuesday, October 20, 2015

40 is just a number. 40 does a number on you.

Can I just tell you, 40, no big deal?  It's those months after your birthday that you start to suddenly realize, hey, 40, that's half of 80.  Hey, 40, that's when I should have accomplished a lot of things in my life.  Hey, 40, isn't that supposed to be the new 30?  Hey, 40, would you shut up already and let me get on with my life?!

But that's the thing.  I have never been so good at getting on with my life.  As in making decisions and feeling totally at peace with them and hence myself.  So at 41 (and a half), things just start getting complicated in my head.  And don't get me started on the fine lines around my eyes.

So as I often do when in an existential dilemma, I look to my cultural references for a little help.  That would be movies and songs, as I've done before.

Sliding Doors
I can't tell you how many times I've seen this movie, but I find something new in it every time.  The concept is that Gwyneth Paltrow's character's life could take very different paths just based on whether she catches one subway or the train after it.  Hence the sliding doors reference.

Watching this movie we can see that, in a way, every moment is a yes or no decision, a binary 1 or 0.  And that can put too much pressure on each decision.   Am I making the right one?  This moment is so crucial!  Even though her life could take very different paths, in the end she is where she is supposed to be.

Take-home message:
Maybe things end up the way they should; different paths can lead to the same (correct) answer.  Plus, this movie has a killer soundtrack.

Strictly Ballroom
Another one I watched more times than I could count.  Love Baz Luhrmann.  Love the campy, kitschy characters and their awesome Aussie accents.  A mousey young woman wants to be dance partners with the handsome lead.  She is transformed by the experience and overcomes her fears.  Her mantra is: a life lived in fear is a life half-lived.

Decisions are hard enough but when fear is involved it paralyzes you.  And by never making decisions (be they right or wrong), we aren't living to our full potential.

Take-home message:
Fear is killing you softly (with its song*, killing you softly). So say goodbye to fear and just do it (thank you, Nike). 

Non, je ne regrette rien
I am not a huge Edith Piaf fan, but this song has a great message.   When I teach my students the structure "should have done" I often ask them what in their life they wish had done differently.  Most say, I don't have any regrets.  Maybe they would have liked to study something different in school, but they accept where they are today and always find something positive to say about it.

Take-home message:
Isn't there a saying, he who regrets is a fool twice?  Why waste time and energy regretting, especially if it's over a small issue.

So as I am firmly on the "dark" side of 40, I am trying to see things with a pinch of persepctive and a dab of devil-may-care.  Maybe I will make the wrong decision but life goes on. I can always change my mind, re-work things, re-evaluate, change paths, retool.  Reset.  Forty is not the end.  It's just a new chapter.  And as Bon Jovi said (and I can't believe I am quoting him), "it's my life/it's now or never." 

* And if fear had a song, I bet it would be creepy, scary and keep you up at night humming it in your ear.


Jenenz said...

40 is your Private Universe.

Lindle said...

It's too bad we can't go to a kiosk and buy a cup of wisdom for those life-defining decisions. We sometimes just have to take the plunge---dive right in, and see what happens. No one gets out alive anyway, so pursue things that don't hurt others but that interest you, enchant you, enrich you.
Don't know if all paths would eventually lead to the same point of equilibrium. I believe you really will be a different person based on which road you choose to travel. And the gentle, but rapid (sometimes) aging that catches you off guard IS just a number. Fine lines and wrinkles are earned! The point is to live and laugh, and keep friends in your age group guessing what you will do next!