There’s a point in your adolescence that every age beyond your own seems old. So very old. So distant.
Thirteen you can go to ‘PG-13’ movies.
Fifteen and you can learn how to drive.
Sixteen and you can drive.
Seventeen and you can get into ‘R’ Rated movies.
Eighteen and you can vote – and join the military – and gamble – and get into bars.
Twenty-one and you can drink.
And on and on.
All of it seems distant and strange and those who live in those far off lands seem alien. You dream of driving, of working, of having your own money, your own place, and your own freedom, never seeing the struggles, the stress, the heartache, or the pains it will take to have these things. Never appreciating how magical it can all be once you earn it.
I, like a lot of my generation never saw myself reaching 40 for a variety of reasons but yet here I am, forty years old. An age that seemed so old once and still does. I look around my house and see weird toys, movie posters, hundreds of movies and so much STUFF and it’s strange to think of myself as an adult, let alone as being a husband and being forty. I think back to being a teenager, trapped in a prison of depression with walls I build myself and never seeing a life beyond those walls. I hate high school. I hated school in general. I had few friends and movies were my escape. Movies and writing. I fell in love with writing as a teenager and that is one thing that has not changed.
I never dreamed of college – making friends – falling in love – having a full time job. I never dreamed of what it would be like to move out of my parent’s house – something I did later in life and which came all of a sudden – probably the best way it could.
I still get scared by the future, by my job, by what comes after this job, and what comes five years, ten years, twenty years from now. I have no idea how I will retire, if that’s even possible in a world that has destroyed the middle class and inflated the upper and lower classes. An era where the idea of being debt free is a dream. A distant dream.
This is 40. I feel older. My health isn’t great, my body has changed, and there are times when my brain feels absolutely broken.
It’s hell getting older.
But it’s heaven too.
I have lived. I have loved. I have been places and met people I would never imagined. I have written books, published books, vended at conventions and sold my ‘art’ to strangers and friends alike. I have been involved in the arts and that experience helped me create my own art shows with friends. Those art shows led to our bar rummage sales. And all of those things lead to the creation of a horror convention on my home town. I have lived to see technology evolve and change and in turn have watched as mankind has evolved around technology. I have seen concerts that have made me fall in love with music anew. And I have had so many friends, so many great people in my life that I am lucky to have even had this long to know them.
I have regrets. I have SO many regrets, and have made so many mistakes and make more every day. But this is part of living. These are the daily lessons that make it possible for you to survive. And sometimes that’s what getting older is, sometimes what life is – survival. Surviving yourself long enough to find a sort of balance and peace so you can appreciate the good things and not dwell on the bad.
And there is bad. More bad than you can bear sometimes but though the years you will meet people, will love people that will make you stronger and who will be there to keep you upright when all you want to do is collapse. And with the bad there is more good than you can imagine. More bliss, more happiness, and more surprises than you’d ever dream.
This is 40. And it’s old. Boy is it old. But in being forty I have so many memories, so many stories, and I have lived so many dreams that I never would have imagined possible as a kid. There’s no real rulebook or guide to life, no real straight path to anything because life will never go as you hope, imagine, or fear. All you can do is find your own path and be willing to change course when necessary.
This is 40 and I am lucky to be where I am, as rocky as the ground may be and am curious where this strange trip will lead me.