It is 6:29 AM, late in the morning by my usual schedule but I felt that I’ve really needed to sleep more than usual lately. It is Friday morning on February 24th and I’m feeling more relaxed than usual.
Yesterday one of my biggest corporate customers re-signed and that goes a long way in taking off some anxiety. As an account manager, losing one big customer would change your life: your numbers would tank, the year would be a bad one and you’d most likely have to find a new job. This is where relationships and all the things that go into creating a good relationship come into play. I was never afraid of losing this customer but it made me very anxious just the same.
The other thing that has been on my mind is that my 40th birthday is on the horizon. And so, just as I did a “check-in” post when I was 38, I’d like to make it a tradition and do a check-in every year henceforth. It is in these posts where I describe my thoughts, feelings, and generally how life is on the overall.
I feel as though I should have done this a few months ago to really capture the essence of my 39th year. I say this because I feel physically and mentally different from just a few months ago. Also, the world has dramatically changed with the election of Donald Trump and this has added quite a bit of anxiety to my mind. I feel older in just these few months.
Physically, I think the reason I feel older is due to both karate and two boys. Karate, because it is physically demanding: my body creaks and cracks, I’m sore, have bruises and it takes slightly more effort to just stand up from a cross legged position on the floor. Then there are the boys who are constantly running around and there is never a moment of peace. Having said that, I enjoy both karate and absolutely love being around my boys but both add a lot of wear to a 40 year old body.
Mentally, I have to say the boys wear me down because there is rarely a moment of peace. Karate on the other hand goes very far in rejuvenating my mind, melting away the stress. Sometimes I compare my mindset to the statistics of an MMORPG character. There are often times when just about all stats (health, defense, damage, stamina etc) are hovering around 20%. Work stress, bills, two energetic boys, the future, “always on” technology, career and a thousand other aspects of a chaotic, crazy American society weigh on me very heavily. But I never really go below 20%, I always have a burst of energy and power somewhere that I can pull out.
When I workout, do karate, finally have work issues resolved, or a combination of these, my stats go straight back to 100% and I can do anything again. I’m confident, powerful, focused and unstoppable.
So what has changed since last year? Well, in terms of activities karate is the standout. Karate is something I have always wanted to do and my son being six years old, and interested in it, gave me the window of opportunity I needed. At first he went to a “McDojo,” as his friends went there. I just wanted him to get used to it and thought there’d be more enthusiasm for it if he could do it with friends. That lasted a few months but then it was time to make the switch. I did my research to find a traditional, 100% Japanese place; there were really only two options near us and the one closest was the “full contact,” hard hitting, kyokushin style, so that is the one we joined.
To be completely honest, I’ve never been a super intense person when it came to sports or even my workouts and so if there were an ‘easier,’ traditional Japanese dojo we probably would have joined that. But I’m very glad we joined the one we did because it forces me to get in shape faster and is really toughening me up. We attend about four times a week and so karate really has become a big part of my life and has been a big change compared to one year ago. This is something I can continue with as a lifetime activity, is becoming part of my identity, and something I can really bond with my boys over. It gives me a feeling of confidence and pride at a level I haven’t felt since high school wrestling.
**Family woke up so I had to pause in the writing. They’ve headed out today and I have a rare moment alone in the house so wanted to resume this post. The time is 10:37 AM. ***
Due to the interruption I’m not sure if I should continue where I left off or just open a vein and write whatever comes to mind? I think I’ll choose the latter.
I’ve been very anxious these past couple of months. As I mentioned above it is due to work, technology, and I also rarely having a moment to myself. I need peaceful, alone time once in a while. Without it I get irritable and cranky. With a little time to myself I regain a lot of energy and can take on the world; without it I become weaker and weaker. And so this is the reason I wake up very early in the morning. Everyone else is asleep and I can have alone time without feeling guilty. I need alone time to restore my sanity.
My Dad told me that this is the toughest time, when kids are between two and five because they require constant attention. As I’ve mentioned many times before I love my boys and doing a lot of activities with them. But if I don’t have a break I’ll go insane.
The age of forty is a milestone and signifies much more than just another birthday. Forty is midlife – the average lifespan of an American male is 78.4 years – and it is highly probable that many of my contemporaries will die sometime in the next forty years. Forty is the age where we can no longer be considered ‘young,’ even with monumental stretches of mental reasoning and effort. I for one thought of myself as relatively young right up until 38. I never noticed how many young people had joined the workforce and that even the cops often look younger than me now. This is another of my Dad’s sayings “You know you’re older when the cops look younger than you.”
A lot of people will say “turning forty doesn’t bother me,” but most of them would be lying. For me, I don’t necessarily like it but it doesn’t bother me much and I have specific reasons why: The first half of my life has been great, especially living abroad and learning languages. At forty most of us are ‘settled in’ and life won’t change too dramatically except in cases of job loss or divorce. And so I’m very happy with the choices I’ve made and the situation I’m now in due to those choices. Furthermore, we still travel, I’m still trying new things, discovering and I have the confidence to make changes if needed or desirable.
Backing up a bit I think that one of the main reasons being young is exciting is because many possibilities remain open. For those in sports, the possibility of playing professionally remains. For those in drama, becoming a Broadway or Hollywood actor could happen! The course of your life has not yet hardened and can still take many paths. I remember being eighteen and realizing any possibility of playing professional sports was over. This was the first time in my life I realized a window of opportunity had closed. I wasn’t a standout varsity athlete so I wouldn’t get recruited to play sports in college and so wouldn’t become a professional. That was a hard realization.
Well, now at forty many other windows have closed. I’m too far down the road of life to really catch up to someone in another profession. Sure one can go to school and change careers should they have the time and determination but one can never do the amount of study that some professions require and even if one was determined to do it, they would still fall way short of the experience others have who chose that career in their twenties.
I think this is a reason many have a “midlife crisis.” They realize that the paths their lives have taken are now pretty much solidified. Should they be unhappy the only way out is to take a sledgehammer to the whole thing which results in broken marriages, strange behaviors such as trying to act young again (cars, women, booze), and basically going a bit crazy.
For me, I’ve made the right decisions and had a hell of a lot of fun during the first half. And the decisions I made put me in a really great position to continue enjoying the second half.
When I think of my kids I will miss the little versions of them very much and be sad when they’re older. One reason I’ve written in this post about them stressing me out is so I can read back on it many years from now when I’m wishing they were young again and remember how tired they made me.
So to my boys: I love this age you are at even though it often stresses me out. I cannot wait until you’re both a little older and we can do even more activities together. I also realize I’ll then wish I could spend just one more day with the little versions. You’ll see when you’re a parent that little kids made you extremely tired but it is also a very fun, innocent and wonderful time as well!
What else can I say about my life at this moment in time? I like things very organized, clean and in their place, including computer files and online presence. I’ve organized a lot recently and nothing is out of place:
- My browser bookmarks are cleaned up and ordered.
- Internet bookmarks have been web clipped and stored on my own server.
- Server locked down, secured and connected to through encryption.
- Personal files organized and encrypted.
- Online “nom de plume/guerre” established and used for all the various services/websites out there.
Another thought just popped into my head I wish to write about. This might come off as a bit too philosophical but I wanted to get it down anyway. The only time we really have is the present. At forty years old I’m starting to forget more about my past. Yes, the accumulation of past decisions have created my present circumstances but I’m talking specifically about the ability to remember. I cannot remember what I did on Tuesday of last month let alone what a good chunk of my high school year was like. We cannot take action on the past nor the future, the only thing we really have is this moment, right now. This is where ‘mindfulness’ comes in and we shouldn’t spend too much time in the past, nor thinking about the future but instead concentrating on the moment right now.
Ok, I don’t want to get too into that. I like to remember my past and luckily I have this very blog. I just mentioned that I cannot remember a good chunk of high school which is true but I can also just look up posts from that time in this very blog! Reading what I wrote back then brings the memories back and it is fun to take a trip down memory lane once in a while. Since I kept my writings and put them in this blog, as well as kept an entire treasure chest of my past, I’m able to do something most people cannot. It is as though I’m an archeologist on my own life! I can re-read my posts and pull out some long forgotten pictures and then through a bit of research through this magical thing called the internet can re-discover my past.
Some specific examples include:
1. Seeing a long forgotten face in a picture and using the internet to not only find their name but also what they’ve been up to.
2. Pulling out a old hotel receipt of some place in Europe and then standing in front of it again using Virtual Reality and Google Street View.
3. Reviving old memories by reading a post that hasn’t been read since it was written twenty years ago.
4. Using Facebook to find old high school pictures that were uploaded but not shared specifically with me and that I might have missed in the newsfeed.
In the distant future perhaps I can give AI access to all of my writings and files then have it use its incredible intelligence to construct a chat bot that thinks and acts like me at any point in my life. I could then have a discussion with my twenty year old self when I’m 70! How fun would that be. Then AI could search the internet and let me know what has become of this person or that person or this place, or that company and so on.
Well, I’ve grown tired of writing and I’m not sure if what I’ve just written is even coherent. That’s ok because this is my blog and this post is for me, to be read many years from now and remember what my mindset was just before turning forty years old. Apparently I’m a bit scatterbrained; perhaps that is what turning forty and having two young boys does to people.
I think I’ll write a part deux on turning 40 but for now I’m done.