This shouldn’t be a surprise, but it kind of was. I mean, I knew my birthday was coming up, mostly because I love birthdays. They are the one day when everyone is polite enough to be nice to you. But mostly, it’s about celebrating our lives and I’m a firm believer that we should just flat out do more of that.
But with a brand new baby (and recovering from that cause I’m obviously not 22 anymore), and my oldest graduating high school and having a bunch of concerts and events, plus family coming to town and about a million other things in the past month, I was distracted. So I kind of figured we wouldn’t really do much for my birthday this year, which was fine since a nice dinner out with a nursing newborn seemed less than fun. But then I woke up one night to feed Lincoln and it just hit me. I’m turning 40! I honestly hadn’t thought about it in many months.
If I’m going to follow the norms of this society, then here is where I’m supposed to be writing all about how traumatic it is to turn 40. I’m supposed to talk about how I can’t run anymore because of a degenerative hip problem, or how I have wrinkles, and soft parts that don’t get firm no matter what exercises I do. Or how I’m so much closer to death and this is the end of my youth, or something like that.
But I’m not going to do that, because really, turning 40 is not a bad thing to me.
We live in this world that values perfection. Smooth flawless skin. Thinness. Attractiveness. Energy and ability. And we equate these qualities with youth. These are all nice things, and certainly I understand the desire to look and feel our best. But I think we take this to such an extreme and get so concerned with our own aging process and mortality that we forget that we are still alive. If your heart is beating and you are breathing and aware enough to have such concerns, then you are still alive. And you can stress yourself out about how you look or feel, or what number represents you this year, or you can be thankful for your life. It’s that simple.
And 40 or 22 or 108… they are just numbers. They may signify something or be special in some way, but really, they are just a representation. They have no more meaning than what we give them. Like all things, we can use them in good ways or bad.
So yes, I’m not as young as I was. Childbirth has taken me longer to recover from. I have wrinkles and grey hairs that weren’t there before….
But you know what? I’m also wiser. Wise enough to know that life is not a race anyway. And the wrinkles and grey hairs and the number 40? I guarantee that I’ve earned them, so they can stay.