40 is old. I don't care what people say. I just turned 40, so I should know.
When my birthday was approaching, I was feeling pretty funky about it. I never thought I would. On the other hand, I never thought my 30s would actually come to an end. It was my favorite decade for a lot of reasons. I guess mostly because I was figuring things out about me and the world more than I had in the past. I was free to be you and me. Expressing myself. Trying new things. Dating new people. It felt like it would last forever.
Then came 40 like a big old stop sign. Of course, it's symbolic. Of course, "age is just a number." "You're as young as you feel." These are things that 30-somethings say to people who are turning 40. They have no clue what it looks like from this end. I forgive their naivete. "40 is the new 30," they cheerfully point out. I call bullshit. I tend to agree more with the birthday card message sent by a friend who beat me to the fourth decade of life by a couple of months. "What's the best thing about turning 40? It's not 50."
Now, I have come to accept my age as a biological fact and have found some peace with it. After the actual birthday passed, the pressure of the "big 4-0" lost some of its weight. All in all, it gave me a nice life signpost to pause at. A turning point to reconsider priorities and get motivated to meet goals that were always hovering out in the "someday" realm. 40 is a good wake-up call, but not much else.
Last night I was watching "Late Night with David Letterman" and Chris Rock was a guest. It came up that he had just turned 40 himself. I'll paraphrase the conversation.
CR: "40 is old, Dave."
DL: "But I thought 40 was supposed to be the new 80. Is that right? I always get that confused."
CR: "No, Dave. 40 is old. The only time 40 is young is if you die. Then 40 is young."
Knowing that Chris Rock is 40 is the one other good thing about being 40.