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Thoughts on turning 40

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Turning 40 kind of snuck up on me. After all, my brother, who’s two years younger, has been lying about his age for years. By Anthony’s clock, I’m still 35. Or 33.

But it happened anyway and I was surprised most by what didn’t happen.

No red car. No strippers. No too-sexy-for-my-shirt addition to the wardrobe.

The day itself wasn’t a big deal at all. It was more a process of a few weeks leading up to it, and the days around it, where I felt sort of a lower sense of gravity in my self than I have before.

I was calm. Having spent the last seven years working on my writing career, with some real success, a lot of cool stories and even more quantifiable improvement, I was able to square myself in the mirror and say, ‘hey, you did what you said you were going to do.’

Thoughts of the future, and goals still to be met pressed on me just a little. I’ll get to them, I said, and sat down and sketched out some plans to do that.

But no real big crisis. Okay, well I did quit my [part-time] job to write 100% of the time, but hey, sometimes benchmarks are important for a reason.

I’ve experienced the flaring up of the latent handyman gene, and have completely dug up and redesigned two gardens [one at the house, one at my wife’s office]. I’m also currently working on refinishing an antique bicycle.

My wife’s been a pretty good sport about it, especially when she came home and saw the bike in a hundred pieces. “I thought you were just putting new tires on it,” she said. To which I shrugged and said, “gotta do it right.”

So now I spend an hour a day in the backyard, using a drill with a wire wheel to strip paint and remove rust from ball bearings. There are worse preoccupations to be carried away by.

One benefit of this was the Home Depot pilgrimage I insisted on. Julie had a terrible time waiting for me while I compared drill models and features against my budget and the job requirements. The upside of this is that I have leverage the next time she insists on a Pottery Barn excursion. [To date it’s HD 1, PB 28.]

The other benefits, the real ones, however, are here for a while, I think. Less anxiety about what’s going to happen next, an ability to focus on what I’m supposed to do and a general sense of well-being that I was surprised to find does come with having lived enough to know what’s important.

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About Frank Giovinazzi

  • Eric Olsen

    Pretty great Frank, I’m really enjoying your writing, and as long as you are enjoying doing it, you made the right move. Sounds like you’re farther along than I am and I’ve got four years on you.

    Happy Birthday!

  • mark

    Hey Frank,
    Good article. Looking back on it, I figure 40 may be much better than 20 or 30. If you are lucky, you have a pretty good idea of where you want to go, how to live comfortably, and you may just be at peace with yourself. And you can look back at your younger self and say, “I’m lucky to be alive!” However, brace yourself; now you have to think about prostate exams, that pot belly that wasn’t there 10 years ago, buying reading glasses at K-Mart, and getting regular physical exams (I mean every year, because the doctor says, “I’m a little concerned about that….{insert any possible blood test abnormality you can dream up}).

    Trust me, your doctor will try to take out any happiness out of your life once you hit 47. But take heart. As Hal Holbrook opined in his Mark Twain Tonight show many years ago (I paraphrase) “A lot of people are going to try to change you, try to make you do things ‘for your health’ that you never done before, and have no evidence of improving your health.
    Don’t listen to them.
    If you can’t get to 70 by a comfortable route, don’t go.”

    I plan on dying a happy man.
    Have fun,

  • dianna palmer

    Hi, i’m turning 40 next month and i can say that it has me scared, because i’m not where i should be in life, but i am getting there, and i hope to be there by 45. I’m working on my associate degree and will be done next may, and then on to my bacholors, but there is one thing that i will say is that i will not make the same mistakes that i made prior to 40.

  • Bill

    Ill be 40 in august and i must say I really do feel different lately. I feel like slowing down…i feel like crying sometimes for no reason but joyful crying….like there is just something that needs to get out then i can move on. The other day, i pulled off the road to look at a particular tree that i found interesting and when i got back in the car trying to figure out if i could root a clipping, i realized that i never would have done that 5-10 years ago….i didnt even know there were trees back then. The other big change that has slowly happened over the last two years is how thankful i feel…..for no specific reason at all. Im nearly 40 and both my parents are not only alive but in great health and are two of my best friends. Both my brothers have great lives and families and we are closer than any three people i know. I am thankful to have a relationship that is not only fun but demands of me every day to be better than i was yesterday. I see life in people that I never saw before, I see kindness and hope. I see love where I once only saw a face. I have to admit, i was a little scared at getting older but if this is it, bring it on.

    btw Dianna – I also have recently returned to school to enter into a completely different field. Ill be 46 when i graduate. Kudos to you and best of luck to us all.