I recently turned forty. It’s made me suddenly aware of time and age and maturity (or immaturity).
I certainly don’t mean that I am mature. Heaven forbid.
But I am suddenly aware of the passage of time in a way I was not before, even more so as I just attended a retirement party for friends I could not believe were old enough to retire. That places me just that much closer to retirement as well—a revelation I was unprepared for. Time runs away from you, I suppose.
In my twenties I barely noticed time. I married, played, worked, traveled, played more. Every day was like the next—a cacophony of fun and work and pleasure.
My thirties were concerned with diapers and bottles, daycare and elementary schools, homework and the inevitable chauffeuring to sports events. And writing. I was on maternity leave when I turned thirty, and decided it was time to be a writer or let the dream die. In the words of my wonderful mother, “Shit or get off the pot.”
Now I am forty. “The days are long,” they say. “The years are short.” I look back and wonder what happened to both.
Here I am, wondering what I’ve learned between the ages of twenty and forty. Part of me says nothing.
My awful temper still runs away from me, wreaking verbal havoc. I still have infinite patience for those in need, but none for those who are blinded by hatred or too stupid to look beyond the end of their nose. I have some of the same insecurities—though I have thankfully graduated from others. I still like to have the last word in an argument, which I am trying hard to overcome.
And, dammit, I’m still scared of the dark. Too much imagination for me to get over that one!
What have I learned, then?
Enjoy every single day. Because you don’t know if you have 20,000 days gifted to you, or 30,000 days. And that’s a 27 year difference.
Family is the base of your life, but friends will fulfill you.
Children bring joy and sorrow in equal measure.
Dreams can, and do, come true—if you apply a lot of elbow grease.
You are never as smart (or beautiful or wonderful or talented) as you think you are.
If you blink, a decade will pass.
Listen to your spouse so that when they are gone, you have their voice in your head.
Take joy in the sunny days, as they are few in the winter.
Just because you don’t love your job every day, doesn’t mean it’s a bad job.
Your children will leave you before you are ready.
A spouse is not a crutch or a person to lose yourself in. A spouse is a partner.
Sometimes, life just plain old sucks, so make lemonade out of those lemons.
Don’t whine. It’s unbecoming and annoying.
It’s a lot easier to lose weight at twenty than it is at forty.
Wrinkles just happen. I don’t know how, but one day, you just wake up with them.
Loved ones leave you before you are ready, so appreciate them while they are here.
There is more of course. More life lessons that I can’t even put into words. And I wonder, how much more will I know at sixty? Or eighty? What other truths will I discover going forward?
I also wonder what lessons others have learned. No two lives are the same, and we can never fully understand what other people have lived through, as we cannot be in their shoes.
So I ask you, what have you learned in your life?
Photo: newleaf01 [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]