Another birthday came and went, and I’m solidly over the hill. But I don’t feel that way.
In my thirties, I used to fear being forty. I dreaded it like one dreads a root canal. And it hovered over me like a black cloud. Probably the unknown was the cause for so much fear in me. I mean, What does someone do after they’re forty? I had no clue. It’s hard to see over a hill when you’re still climbing it. But now I know how stupid that was, pure ignorance.
These days I feel pretty good health-wise, great even. In fact, I’m better than I was in my twenties and thirties. I’m healthier and more vibrant. I have more energy. Shedding over fifty pounds, eating vegetarian, doing yoga, sleeping well, and intermittent fasting probably helped. Feeling this way at this age was inconceivable when I was younger. Yet here I am, feeling like a spritely young man.
Question marks surrounded my career. I had this notion that after forty, I had nothing left to give professionally. My twenties and thirties were the only time I had to materialize any of my dreams or ambitions. And if I didn’t, I wouldn’t. But I was so wrong. I read this article by the World Economic Forum saying that forty-two-year-olds start most companies. I made an audible sigh of relief. “I still have time,” I thought to myself. Foolish, I know, but true.
But isn’t that what fear does? It makes us believe untrue stories about ourselves, and others. But now I know the truth. Forty-something is amazing.
Armed with that understanding, I sought a trail forward. And I needed to answer this question. What was I supposed to do with my time, my life? So I experimented with various ideas and exercises. There were a few months where I flirted with selling my company, but didn’t. I read like it was breathing air, constant and regularly. And I started writing, meeting with folks, blogging. And I noticed how much I loved the act of forming words together, telling stories, communicating, blogging. Whatever I do, I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing that.
Midlife affords huge advantages. We’ve lived long enough to know our foibles, tendencies, weaknesses and strengths, abilities, and skills. And we have a greater depth of self-knowledge. I think that’s why most people don’t start a company until they hit their forties. It just takes time to gain the skills and confidence to venture out. That accumulated know-how and experience gives us an edge.
Urgency accompanies midlife for me. I don’t feel rushed, at least not most days. But there is a sense that I need to make the most of my time, savor each moment, do what is most important, Netflix less. There is so much I want to accomplish in life, and time is a significant factor. I’ve started making goals for the next few decades, laying out what I want to achieve by the end of my forties, fifties, and sixties. For me, I don’t just want to retire. That sounds a touch dull. I still want to build and grow something or somethings.
“Over the hill” is a terrible phrase for midlife. It’s stupid, really, and false. It implies that we are descending or will soon because we’ve crested the hill of life. And then it’s all downhill from here, baby. But I feel like I’m ready to continue the climb, “Belay on!” is what I want to cry out. We are not over the hill; we are on top of it. Better yet, we are on the summit of a mountain. And the view from up here is majestic. And there are other peaks to climb if we so choose. I’m not trying to fool myself in thinking that things won’t be different later in life. Things will change. But in the meantime, I want to continue learning, growing, ascending.
Let’s grow together. I’m committing myself to documenting and posting about my midlife. We can walk alongside each other. It need not be a lonely journey. I won’t be as helpful as a sherpa or guide since this is my first time on this trail and the adventure has barely begun. But I can be a companion, sharing stories and learnings along the way, while we climb or rest and have a (vegetarian) bite around a warm fire in the crisp fresh air, as we marvel at the canopy of stars that blankets us. The hope I carry with me is that I can help delight you with my words and make the trek less lonesome, maybe even more fun.
My friends, this is a beautiful journey we are on together. Enjoy the view and watch your step.
You’re on top of a mountain.
John, that was excellent. I really enjoyed reading it and I totally agree with your thoughts. I am passing this on to my 2 sons which are just where you are in their life.
Thank you, Linda! Glad you enjoyed it. You are actually an inspiration for me. Thanks for sharing. Hope your sons get something out of it, too.
John, thank you so much for saying that. I consider it a huge compliment. So you know I did accept your invite through WordPress but I have not been able to post my guest blog. It shows an error message which I did send you before. I have not heard from you so I was not sure your received it. Let me know if there is another way. Thanks so much. Linda
It’s true! Great. I didn’t see the message. I’ll try emailing you.