On the eve of my fortieth birthday, I don’t feel any different than I have on the eve of any other birthday. I don’t feel panicky. There aren’t any cold sweats. No uncontrollable sobbing. Instead, there is contemplation.
A friend of mine asked me the other day, how did I picture my life at forty – married with children? My honest answer was no. I just didn’t picture life at forty. I realize it sounds gloomy at first but it is not to say that I saw myself without a future. It is just that I was always thinking “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.” An odd expression for who can really cross a bridge before they get to it? But I think we do sometimes. We think and think about our lives. Who will we marry? How many kids will we have? What will do for our career? What kind of lifestyle will we afford ourselves?
In this thinking, we forget the span of life between the bridges. Who will we meet along the way? What experiences will we gather? How will we make the most of that time? Here I am at that bridge of a new decade and tomorrow I have to cross it. I am not incredibly worried about aging now. When thoughts of old age creep to mind, I think about a friend I lost at a very young age. How her family would have loved the opportunity to watch her travel between the bridges but were denied that experience. As for married with children, I am not but I am blessed in other ways. In my twenties and thirties, I traveled the world. In the last few years, I transformed my body and mind. Not bad for a soon to be forty year old.
I hope the time before the next bridge will be genuinely happy. I started a happiness jar at the beginning of this year, each day I write one thing that has made me happy that day and I place it in the jar to be read at the end of the year. It sounds so easy but I have to say it takes a moment some nights to think of that one little tidbit of happy to put in my jar. That surprises me. It’s not that I am not married, a mother or whatever others may think life at forty should be that concerns me most. My only thoughts tonight is to cross that bridge and pick up as many happy moments as I can before the next bridge.