Hey there, lucky winner! Look at you! You’re 40! Today, you’ve officially made it to the beginning of the best years of your life.
That’s right. I said best years, motherfucker.
You might think the best years are behind you…trapped in your old yearbooks, perhaps, or lodged between an old stick of gum and a condom wrapper in the back of your storage bin. But your best years are actually ahead of you. That is, if you truly want them to be.
By the time you’ve reached 40, you’ve eaten approximately 132 snickers bars. You’ve stood in line at the DMV approximately 42 times. You’ve, attended approximately 3,002 boring procedural meetings at work, written up approximately 572 grocery lists, seen oodles of friends, family, come and go, some of them sadly gone forever.
You’ve had some hard knocks, but are wiser for it. You’ve experimented with drugs. You’ve got stories to tell. You’ve been betrayed by several, betrayed a few, and betrayed yourself more times than you can count. You’ve endured painful medical and dental procedures, and keep a few percocets around, y’know, just for fun. At 40, you’ve got the wisdom you wish you’d had as a youth, but your body is still youngish and not completely crumbling. Sure, there’s some aches and pains, and your cholesterol was a bit high at the last physical. But you can still shake it when your power song comes on the radio. You’re in your prime!
The question that might be clanging around your brain by now might be “Well, if my best years are ahead of me, how do I live the 2nd half of my life?”
I can’t answer that for you. Each must find their own way. Live like a worm, or live like a king, it’s up to you. However, in the course of my own measly 40 years here on earth, I’ve come up with a list of general guidelines I try to follow to keep myself buoyant, and ever tottering forward.
Without further adieu:
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR THOSE WHO HAVE JUST TURNED 40
- Stop saying “I’m old.”
We all know in today’s world of fetishizing youth culture, “Old” is anyone over 19. This means, 25 year olds go around saying “I’m so ooooold.” And yet the average person lives to be near 80! I know I’m bad at math, but this means ¾ of your life is spent in old age! How can this be possible?
You’re not old. Stop saying you’re old. Besides, Age is never an excuse for opting out of anything. You’re just lazy.
You know who’s really fucking old? This guy:
- Befriend the youth.
Ah, the youth. Everyone’s favorite scapegoat.
I see a lot of articles ripping on millennials, lately. You know what these articles sound like to me? Like the squawks and beerfarts of someone who’s just bitter because they’re not 22 anymore. Perhaps someone who sold their dreams out for a comfortable, “sensible” life. Why do the youngsters bother you so much, eh? They’re just young. They can’t help it! You too were once a young asshole, with your long hair, and your black lipstick. You too, once had dreams that seem so foolish now, (dreams which you can’t seem to throw away somehow….). You too, thought you could change the world. Why have you stopped believing?
Hating the youth is a song & dance that’s as tired as the hills and keeps society from evolving. Why not impart your awesome accumulated wisdom on the youth, instead of being a hater? Consider this: 98% OF PEOPLE UNDER 30 DO NOT KNOW WHO ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN ARE.
You have work to do, son. Share your wisdom. Time’s a clackin’
- Do the thing
There’s a thing that you love to do, that you never seem have time for because you’re so busy doing so many other things, and there’s never any time! You are so busy all the time! With what? Who knows! Whatever it is, it tires you out.
By the time you’re 40, you realize how precious time is. That can be either inspiring, or scary depending on how you see it. And it really is all about how you see it.
You may realize, at 40, that the things you spend most of your time on are relatively meaningless, and unfulfilling, and that it’s actually better to just do the thing because if you don’t, the thing will slowly kill you from the inside. The first symptom? Being tired all the time.
“But, but but…”
You’re never too old to start doing the thing. Your voice, your perspective, your talent is needed now, more than ever. Bring it!
- Burn your time lines.
So, you thought you’d have a certain type of house by now, certain type of income, certain number of kids, certain type of career. You’ve got precisely zero of these. Other people do! Why not you? Susie seems to be doing so well! Susie has got it made. But what you don’t realize is, the reason Susie seems to do it all is because she’s actually high on crystal meth all the time, and soon all of her teeth will fall out.
Does anyone have the exact life they daydreamed about as youngster? I have yet to find one person who can answer yes to this . As for me, I thought by now I’d be a famous author, or filmmaker, and reading creepy fan mail from my penthouse apartment in New York. Instead, I manage an office, live in a dilapidated bottom floor flat in Oakland with 2 roommates, and my fan mail consists of supportive comments from my parents, on my blogs. Does that mean my life is shit? Hell no. The life I ended up with is pretty damn sweet–chock full of laughter, sorrow, romance, adventure, and disco. Who is to say that the life thought I’d have, would have been better than this life? Perhaps my pent-house apartment in New York has bad lighting, roaches, or leaky pipes. Perhaps my creepy fan mail ends in restraining orders and forced subterfuge. Who can say what’s good and what’s bad for a person?
Point is, timelines suck. Burn them down. BLOW THEM UP. Stop looking at what everyone else is doing. Stop whining that you don’t have this thing or that thing “by now.” It’s making you, quite frankly, a pain in the ass.
If all you have at the end of the day is your health, then, as anyone who has suffered great illness or trauma can testify, you’ve got abundant riches my friend.
- Build a Strong Core
I’ve spent lots of time thinking about disasters that may never actually happen. It started when I was little, and became convinced that lions would eat me in my sleep. From there, I developed a phobia of rabies, doctors, orgies, deadly spiders, driving cars, partner dancing, and….. um….I’m kinda afraid of white people–especially the old man next door, who I’m convinced is an Undead. (I’m afraid of myself too!)
My imagination runs a bit wild I admit. But I think a good way to channel all of this impotent dread, is to develop the physical strength to escape danger should a deadly spider or orgy find me. My goal is not to fight, but to outrun, or hoist myself up onto a ledge to safety. And that means maintaining this minimum physical strength requirement:
- Be capable of at least one pull-up.
- Be able to run one mile at a good pace (think about the bushman in the Gods Must Be Crazy)
- Be able to easily touch toes.
- Be able to withstand a light blow to the stomach by having strong core muscles.
- Don’t get mad, Get Eccentric
By the time you’re 40, you’ve no doubt noticed much of the world’s population is comprised of assholes. You’ve no doubt been on the receiving end of an asshole, and that by-product is what? That’s right, bullshit! Heaps of it, maybe! The world isn’t fair, as you once naively thought. Good people get shot down. Bad people walk the streets. You work for something, only to have it taken away. How can you stay fresh, when the bitterness of the world so consumes you, and threatens to turn you into an asshole too? Yeah, yeah. You’ve tried juice fasting, pilates, reverse osmosis rolfing, self-help books, and affirmations. Nothing seems to help. Isn’t it easier to just go somewhere and troll a comments page? If no, then what’s the alternative?
I’ll tell you: Eccentricity.
Look, we’re all fucked up–it’s just some of us are better at covering it up and putting on a good game face. None of us gets to 40 without some battle scars–(a majority of them self-imposed). But I contend that living as a fabulous freak is WAY better AND WAY MORE FUN than being bitter and resigned. Find your own cool personality tics! Declare yourself the Sultan of South Berkeley. Wink at the mailman. Send your enemies buttplugs. Glue some rhinestones on those battle scars—rise up, up, up and be a glittering monster of doom and glory.
I hope that by the time I’m 80, I am wearing a purple magic genie turban, and learning how to shoot a glock.
- Get rid of it.
Give yourself a gift. Take a weekend, and go through everything in your house. Get rid of, or donate all the tired old shit you don’t really need. Lighten your load, Sally! Stop hanging on to the past. Let it go. Make room in your 2nd half of life, for good surprises, and new adventures to wing their way to you. If you clear out the shit, I promise, the new cool shit will come. (I don’t make up these rules. They are the law of the universe).
Do this at least once a year, and don’t listen to any of your own excuses, because they are horseshit.
- Love, and love again.
This might be the hardest one on the list. (God knows, I’ve struggled the hardest with this one). But it’s also the most important one. No matter what kind of heartbreak you’ve experienced, what kind of disillusionments, disappointments, insecurities….. never cut yourself off from the possibility of love, sex, and romance! At any age! That’s right! Even if right now you’re not feelin it. Even if you’ve sworn off the whole thing as something for the youngsters.
Even if you’re not actively seeking…If you’ve got a pulse, love will hunt you down like a dog. And when it finds you, will you be well-lubed and ready, or will you turn away, and shut the door, and say “you don’t care” even though you do.
Love is everything, and love is always worth it.
- An orgasm a day….
- Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Instead, start feeling sorry for everyone else because they are not you.
You’ve come a long way, kid. The fact that you are 40, means you have many awesome survival skills. So many things could have killed you by now, including your own two hands. But somehow, you are still standing, you fucking miracle you!
Your life, y’know, is pretty good. Yeah, there’s room for improvements, here and there. Upkeep is required. But there are many folks who haven’t figured out half the shit you have figured out by now. There’s that guy over there, he looks like a miserable fuck, doesn’t he? Be glad you’re not him. Those kids over there, with their faces buried in their phones, oblivious to the colors of the sunset right above their heads. They don’t know how awesome it is to be you, and noticing the sunset right now! It’s sad isn’t it? They don’t know! Because they aren’t you! Pity them, but never pity yourself.
Self-pity is a luxury item not even the richest of sultans can afford. Make a deal with yourself to instead, cobble together a reasonable life philosophy, that includes plenty of singing, dancing, good food, laughter, friends, and stone-cold freaking.
Congratulations! You’ve made it to 40. You’re breathing. You’re alive. You’ve reached the end of this post. It’s time to celebrate.
…….Over the hill, you say? That’s good news. It means you can roll, run, slide or somersault down the other side of the hill. And when you reach the bottom, breathless, flushed, glowing…. Old Lady Death will be waiting for you with a sack of your favorite sandwiches and a one-way ticket to eternity.
But until then, enjoy your adventure. (And don’t forget to floss and eat your leafy greens!)