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Journal Entry – 5.26.2017

It is 4:41 AM on May 26th, 2017.  Today is my 40th birthday.

I awoke at 3:50 AM and have completed all my morning rituals: I’ve drank a shot of wheatgrass, put away the dry dishes and washed the dirty ones, set the coffee, meditated and now it is time for a journal entry.

I’ve always enjoyed the end of May because it is not only my birthday but the school year was coming to a close and summer beginning.  The end of the school year is a very exciting time for a kid as you come to the end of your textbooks, wrap up remaining projects and spend much of the remaining school days socializing, playing in the playground and doing nothing in-particular.  The weather would be consistently warm and thoughts of summer, sleeping in and endless days of fun pervaded the mind.

As I think of my childhood days at Trinity Elementary in Columbus, Ohio I remember how we had to go to a weekly mass and May was the month of Mary.  The special event was placing a crown on the Mary statue for the “May Crowning.”  Someone from our class would be picked to place the crown on her head and I had always really wanted to do that but was never chosen.  I think that memory lingers with me as it is combined with the other memories I’ve mentioned about May just above.  Yes, May was always the best month of the year in childhood and I’m very glad I’m able to remember these things thirty years later.

MIddle-Age Man

I’m no longer a child, those days are a memory.  I’m no longer a young adult:  the last remaining traces of young adulthood have been firmly and decisively wiped away by my birthday today and reaching an age that is universally known as mid-life, or middle age.  And I’m now reminded of this image, which those more than five years younger than I will not understand.

Now, thirty years later I no longer find myself in Columbus, Ohio, having not lived there for approximately sixteen years.  It was just over ten years ago that I lived in Asia and I’ve worked for the same company for six years.  Time is speeding up as I get older to the point where it seems as though all I need to do is blink and a few months have passed; I fail to focus and a few years have slipped by.

So how do I feel today?  Well, I’m really enjoying remembering how I felt about May when I was a child here in the silence of the morning.  Those pleasant feelings just done come as easily as they once did.  Every day there is the stress of work, job uncertainty, the marathon and constant demand of raising two kids, and the seasons just don’t change, nor does May bring an abrupt change in schedule and daily activity.  Everyday is groundhog day here in California, married with kids, at 40 years old.  The month of May appears really not much different from December weather-wise.  I’ll do the exact same activities I do on any other day.  The only difference is that I think I will take more pictures today and perhaps even write a few more short posts.

I take that back, there is one more difference.  Today is the start of a weekend which worked against me as a child, but I appreciate today.  It is Memorial Day weekend, a time when families often go on trips, which meant not many of my classmates were around for a birthday party when I was a kid.  Therefore, I don’t remember too many birthday parties, but rather smaller events that were usually not on my exact birth-day.  I do remember a skating party for my birthday one year held at USA Skates that was a lot of fun.  It was at this party Vicki Ciotola borrowed $5 of my birthday money to buy a pair of Coca-Cola sunglasses from the prize area.

I was more than happy to give her the money since I had a huge crush on her.  But the loan did nothing for me in terms of dating, but I think I got one hold-hands skate out of the deal.  On our Trinity class page I’ve reminded her that she owes me not $5 but $11.36 due to inflation.  Unfortunately, she does not remember my loan, nor the sunglasses which is very disheartening and might sway my thoughts about voting in favor of debtors prison.

So what is the main point I want to make?  Well, I said much of it yesterday in that I’m very happy with all of my choices and I have a very nice life at 40 years of age.  However, I wish the pleasant and wonderful feelings of childhood would come easily as they did so many years ago.  Perhaps I’ve let my mind be swayed a little too far recently by all the pressures of adulthood…. when in fact my pressures are not so severe.  Perhaps it is my own mind I’ve let wade too deeply into worry and concern.  Just let it go and as Bobby McFerrin says, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

One thing I do want to mention is that my perception of the world and this universe has evolved and become something very exciting.  To get right to the point I now deeply understand that we really do not know much about reality, our existence and the nature of this entire universe.  When contemplated deeply it is both awesome and terrifying.  I’ve come to understand that humanity was doing so well in terms of getting to the answers up to the fall of the Roman Empire (my post on this topic).  Humanity then fell into approximately two thousand years of superstition and suppression of knowledge that really only started to recover with the enlightenment which have been built upon right up until this very day.  We now have a pushback against science here even in the year 2017, even with all our universities, access to knowledge and amazing technology!  There is too much to learn, too much data, too many books, people just cannot process it all and so stick to the familiar, to what everyone else around them believes and then they hold on for dear life in this roller coaster of progress in knowledge.

So when I look up at the stars, or at the sunset, or read poetry, or science, or visit the NASA website I am in complete amazement and awe.  I see this miracle that I can think, am cognizant, in a terrifyingly infinite universe.  I’ve reached a point of understanding at 40 years old that I’ve never had before and can easily see that many people will never reach.

And with that I think I’ll leave off.  The time is now 5:28 AM and I’d like to get a workout in before the day starts.  With a workout, I will have completed all the things I like to do in the morning and thus should make for the beginnings of a wonderful birthday weekend.


The ocean on May 26th, 2017

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Journal Entry – 5.25.2017

Tomorrow is my 40th birthday.  As I’ve said before I’ve felt like I’ve already reached 40 for a couple of months now but tomorrow it is for real.

Turning 40 reminds me of two things my parents said.  When I was young my Mom told me she never thought she’d be turning 40; life went so quickly and 40 was fast approaching.  At that moment I thought that 40 years of age was an infinity, an age that was so far into the future it would seem like an eternity to get there.  Well, here I sit, on a blustery, overcast day in May, thousands of miles away from where I grew up and 35 years older.

My Dad told me that when you turn 40 your body hurts in places that it didn’t hurt before.  Yes, recovery is much slower, I can hear by body creaking as I move in the silence of the morning and sometimes I feel various types of pain that I wouldn’t have felt twenty years ago.

Forty is a time for reflection; a time to look back and see if the first half of your life has gone well and realize that where you find yourself is simply the accumulation of all the decisions you’ve made thus far.  Forty is the age where you’re supposed to have everything together, be successful, have accomplished most of what you’d set out to do after college.  It is a harsh realization for many when they realized they’ve hit 40 but have not accomplished much, and/or failed in many things.  Or others look around and are simply not satisfied with the lives and routines they’ve built for themselves.  Turning 40 is a psychological hurdle which forces people to take a good look at their life.  In the twenties and thirties one can say, ‘Well, I still have time to do this and that!’  But at 40, most of ‘this’ and much of ‘that,’ should have been accomplished.

As for me, I am absolutely satisfied.  No, I do not like turning 40 but I really had my “I’m not young anymore,” realization after my second son was born.  I made the right decisions, especially the big ones such as who to marry, where to buy a house and how many children to have, and I am very pleased with the results.

The most exciting and beneficial part of the first 40 years was studying abroad, learning languages and history and living in different countries.  Due to these experiences I am now connected to Japan through family and will continue spending time overseas, especially in Japan during the second half.  However, instead of being a young guy going to bars, chasing girls around and so on, I’ll be a family man, trying to provide experiences for my wife and kids which really stir the same passion and wonder for overseas travel that I have.  Of course I’ll still be visiting the bars from time to time.

The biggest change at the moment is that I’ve built a gym in my garage.  I’ve always worked out since high school but never seriously or consistently.  I bought a membership to 24 hour fitness when we moved to Pacifica in 2010 and at the time it was around $280 for two years at Costco.  However, the price kept increasing and now it costs $400 for two years.  Seeing as I have to also pay for the wife as well as children when they grow up it is simply too expensive and better to shell out the money now for our own gym and can thus begin saving money on memberships in about four years.  Besides, having a gym in your very own garage means  that in addition to saving money in memberships everyone will workout more since they just need to go through the door and can begin.

The important thing was to create a nice gym.  It is all too often that there are some dusty weights in a dank basement which creates an environment nobody really wants to be in.  My gym had to be nice, clean, bright and a place where you want to go.  The other consideration was money; I could not spend a fortune on this project.  So, I did it all myself from buying and installing insulation and drywall, choosing the matting and sourcing it all from Amazon where the price cannot be beat AND I get 5% back and free shipping by being a Prime member and using their credit card.  So I was able to create my gym for half the price it would cost had I thought thought everything through.

 

Having my own gym means I’ll actually be in better shape in the beginning of my 40s than I’ve been since high school.  Combining the workouts with karate as well as healthy eating I should be in fantastic shape.

As for my mindset, I’ve been anxious for quite a while due to job stresses.  As I’ve said before, it isn’t a particularly difficult job seeing as it is work from home but the fear of losing accounts, of always having to push through parts of the company that don’t work very well and keeping corporate customers happy at the same time is a challenge.  Only recently has the anxiety lessened a bit by changing my mindset.  I won’t remember what I did or didn’t do in this company five years from now so why stress so much over it?  I’m in a good position, but like most of corporate America, one with no job security.  It does no good whatsoever to stress and be anxious, so why do it?

As for friendships, those fade away and morph into a kind of relic as we get older, families take precedence and memories falter.  This is evident when returning to my hometown and many are too busy to meet or even respond to invitations to get together.  Only by old best friends will make it a point to get out to see me, the others are hit and miss.

And so what are my plans for my 40s? The first is to continue with karate and achieve a black belt along with my sons.  This is something I’ve always wanted to do and now I have the reason, motivation and time to do it.  The second is to get a really nicely sculpted body through my gym.  Third, is to continue traveling and exploring, even if it is mostly in Japan.  Fourth is to continue reading and learning; to try to get a further sense of what this life and this universe is all about.  And finally, I’ll continue recording my life in this blog, which I’ve done a very good job of during the first part of my life.  I think I may be among only a few hundred people in the entire world who has something like this, who can just click a button and read his own thoughts, and about his own life from twenty five years ago.

The time is now 12:10 PM.  I really prefer to write in the early morning when my thoughts are clearest.  Right now I am a little sleepy and need to do some other things.