It is 4:3.0 AM on Tuesday May 8th. I woke up at 3:30 AM and got all my chores done which were: throw the compost garbage out, put dishes away, wash dirty dishes, get coffee ready and drink wheat grass. It sounds like this would only take a couple of minutes but getting it all done takes about 45 minutes.
Next I had to decide if I should workout or write in my journal. I’ve found that if work is slow I prefer to write in the morning and workout later. The morning is peaceful with absolutely no distractions unlike during the day. A workout is more enjoyable later on because I don’t feel rushed to get it done and can put up the garage screen if the weather is warm which makes makes for a nice ambiance and thus I’ll workout longer.
May is my birthday month and so I thought it is time to get my yearly check-in post written before I turn 41. At 40 years old I feel my life has begun another chapter. I feel act, feel and think ‘older.’ As for acting older, I’m more of a ‘parent’ now which means my kids are no longer babies and so I have to be more strict than I used to. They are also exploring new things and I have to find different ways to interact with their world. For my oldest, this means doing karate with him, encouraging his artwork and of course playing video games with him. For my youngest it involves sitting down on the floor and playing with his block trucks and plastic lizards; “Papa, you this one, and I am this one.” When they are babies they’re usually just crawling around and doing their own thing but now takes much more involvement and effort. My youngest likes to swing and so I take him to the park and push him when we have our one on one time when Mom is volunteering at the Japanese school while my oldest is studying there.
As for ‘feeling’ older my body doesn’t recover as quickly as it used to. After Saturday adult karate class I’m sore and my body lets me know it. I have bruises all over the place and the tops of my feet might hurt from all the kicking. I can hear my knees in the quiet of the morning when I climb the stairs. I go to bed by 9:00 AM and wake up around 3:30 AM like clockwork. I prefer the quiet of the mornings to a late night and feel like I get much more accomplished at the start of a day rather than at the end. Waking up so early I’m tired at night and just want to sleep.
I also find that my thoughts are that of an older person. I am no longer excited by very much and it takes effort to feel that enthusiasm which comes so easily when one is younger. I have a lot of responsibility in providing for my family and so I think about things like retirement plans, healthcare, am more conservative in risk taking and conservative in general (not politics of course!). I have become nostalgic for the ’80s and ’90s, do not like mainstream music and realize just how young all those 20 and 30 year old’s are. In fact it looks like for the first time in my life my boss will be younger than me.
In the past month the ’80s nostalgia has come on strong. The makers of TV series on Netflix have recognized this and are writing shows which appeals to this nostalgia through the very popular ‘Stranger Things’ and Cobra Kai series. Cobra Kai is a show I absolutely love and since we do karate has had a profound effect on me about getting me pumped up for karate. I was excited to do karate in the beginning but after a while it just became ‘normal’ and something I did to make me get in shape, give me an addition to my identity and better myself overall. Watching Cobra Kai makes it seem awesome instead of the very hard, long slog towards black belt. In fact, watching Sensei Lawrence and how he is stuck in the ’80s made me want to take a trip back and I even bought a dark jean jacket like the one he wears as well as a pair of Oakley sunglasses!
I thought that my buying these two things could be somewhat of a very minor ‘mid-life crisis’ but it isn’t that really. It is just that the ’80s were an awesome time compared to how things are now and I haven’t felt ‘awesome’ in a very long time. Doing wrestling in high school made me feel awesome; learning languages in college and through my 20’s made me feel awesome, then mountain biking and building a family and life made me feel awesome. Now that I’ve accomplished those things they have just become ‘normal’ and life routine. I’d like to feel awesome and the way to do that is through karate and mixing things up just a bit. I think there is the mindset at 40 that one should be boring, one shouldn’t try to do awesome things. I want life to be exciting and I want to feel awesome. Now I don’t need a hot car or anything and take pride in keeping my life simple, preferring experiences to material items and so on. But mixing up my wardrobe with a jean jacket, a nicer, work-style backpack and a pair of Oakley sunglasses make me feel good. Also, as I’ve written about previously buying my cheap little laptop, relearning how to use the internet and installing Ubuntu also give me something new to learn and make me feel like I’m progressing.
When you’re young the new experiences are coming all the time since there are so many things one hasn’t done before. As we get older those experiences come less and less and we have to make an effort to break out of monotony and routine. It takes effort to make life exciting again but this time with a different flavor. Now we need to find activities and live a life that includes family and the kids. So, the activities need to be something everyone enjoys and given this ’80s nostalgia and that people my age are making the T.V programs and video games these activities are pretty easy to find.
I’ve mentioned the T.V. shows already regarding the ’80s but it is in toys and video games as well. Mario, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pokemon and others are extremely popular with my sons and something that makes me remember my own childhood (although I was never into Pokemon, that came out too late for me to take interest). The Nintendo Switch reminds me of my Sega Game Boy and playing Zelda really took me back.
I forgot to mention one more thing about the wardrobe and that is the shoes! When I was growing up it was Nike and Michael Jordan all day long. I had two pairs of Air Jordans and it was a very special thing to own those shoes. I did buy a pair of Air Jordans a few years ago when they were re-released but I did feel as though they didn’t bring back the same type of excitement and looked a little funny on me at this age. My preference now is Asics shoes in different colors which I have two. I keep the laces loose and tied so they are easy to slip on and off and they are extremely comfortable. I don’t want any other styles just different colors.
As for the future and the first part of my 40s my main activity and goal is to reach black belt. Karate is great at this point in my life because it is something I can do with my boys, will teach them discipline, respect and give us all confidence. It makes me feel awesome; my son doesn’t yet realize the importance of confidence and feeling awesome just yet but he will eventually. I will narrow down all the distractions through mobile apps, social media and the depressing news and focus on just a few things. Karate is the main followed by making an effort to really study Japanese and improve my ability. I will continue working out so I have a really fit body. My new job will make travel to faraway places much easier (because airfare is free) so I’d like to take a lot of short trips to places we haven’t been before when we catch a break from normal routine. I’d like to visit the nearby states that can be done in a weekend and not cause too much disruption.
Lastly, it looks like I will take a new job and this is a big one. Changing jobs is always one of the most stressful things in life, especially at 40 when you have a lot of responsibility. But on this particular opportunity all the pieces fit into place and it was a no-brainer. It will change things up, provide the opportunity to learn something new and give me a lot of pride in doing. It is the last piece of the puzzle in making my life exciting and awesome again.
Forty is the time when we take stalk in our lives and ask ourselves if we’re successful or not. The feeling is we’re now officially “old” and there is no reversing the choices we’ve made or the track our lives our on. Those that have not made good choices may do something drastic in your classic “mid-life crisis” such as buying a hot car or getting a divorce. To me, this is a cry for help, an attempt to make ones life exciting again because we realize we’re halfway through life already. Fortunately for me, I’m very happy with the life I’ve lead, I made good decisions, found an excellent wife and have wonderful kids. I’m proud and very thankful for my experiences overseas, of the work I’ve done and how my life has turned out. At 40 years old I would like to mix things up a bit, feel a bit of excitement and provide new and wonderful experiences for my family. Life is good and I want my 40s to be something just as grand as my first 40 have been.
With that I’ll leave off. It is now 5:21 AM and the day will soon start. Since I don’t have time to get a workout in this early morning I’ll do it later in the day and sit down to meditate now. I haven’t meditated in the longest time and if I’ve learned anything it is that your mentality is what determines how you perceive your life. Without a good mindset nothing would be enjoyable, the mind controls your life experience and how much joy you want to have regardless of the circumstances. Life and work can wear you down but meditation is a wonderful way to keep the mind healthy and thus live a great life.