There really is something to be said for turning 40 and how it impacts your life. If there is anything that will make you look in the mirror and reflect on your life, your choices and where you are headed, it’s turning 40. To be quite honest, when the notion hit me, I had a meltdown. A complete and utter bumbling, blubbering meltdown. We were in a coffee shop on the coast, away from the chaos of Jozi city life… not a care in the world. Except… that I was fast approaching 40 and I wasn’t sure I was entirely happy with my life choices.
There are so many adages and quotes that speak to turning 40, and now I know why: Life begins at 40, 40 is the new 20, and this fantastic summary by Carl G. Jung: “Life really does begin at forty. Up until then, you are just doing research.”
I have never been one to look at my life and be unhappy. I have taken ownership for each and every step in the road, the good, the bad and the ugly… and I’ve accepted my decisions with grace. But when you suddenly realise that you could very well be in the middle of your life, heading towards the end, you kind of feel like you’ve been slapped in the face. For me, the only thing ringing through me was the notion of TIME.
- How much time I had spent
- How much time I had left
- How I thought I would always have so much more of it
Moments are only so long and if you’re not accessing them and sucking all the marrow from their core, they are being wasted.
It was a very cruel realisation.
But also… a wonderful bump to the heart that motivated me to move more, love more, dance more, feel more, BE MORE! By simply being me and making the most of every heartbeat. I decided to try and do forty fabulous things in my fortieth year, and though I haven’t reached that target, it’s been a great way for me to unravel myself from the confines of routine and do more with each available second. Because that’s all we really have, right?
The day came… I woke up at 5:30am on my birthday. It was a Saturday so the whole house was asleep. I was moments away from getting up to do yoga when I decided I would rather simply lie there in stillness, on my own and reflect on where I was and how I was feeling. The funniest thing occurred to me in those quiet moments before everyone awoke… I actually didn’t give a shit and it was completely liberating! There was a very clear and positive shift that had taken place over the last few weeks. I had gone from fabulous to frenetic to completely broken down and messy to not actually giving a flying f**k about where I was and what was happening to the numbers in my life. It was fabulous! I felt a clear sense of freedom that I was forty and I knew that everything was actually going to be okay. Everything!
The day progressed with so much colourful activity, vibrancy and clear displays of genuine, heartfelt love that I was moved to tears on many occasions. But they were very joyous, happy tears. They were tears of gratitude that I have made it this far in my life, definitely not unscathed but still held together, melded back into place with experiences, love and positive energy.
The sense of peace and freedom was a wonderful cushion that carried me through a wild, crazy Cuban salsa themed party where tequila was the order of the night and a five hour blank spot between 10:30pm and 3:30am reminded me that I definitely can party like a 20 year old, but I probably shouldn’t. But then again… who gives a f**k? There were definitely no f**ks given on that night by anyone… not even my amazing, glorious mother who toasted me with a short, sweet and perfect speech to end all speeches and warm all hearts.
Granted, I had a week-long hangover after it all, but within that I realised that it’s okay. Hangovers are just a reminder that you have extended yourself beyond, but you lived to tell the tale! Nothing actually matters and yet everything does. Everything is going to be fine, and even when it’s not… it is. Life is one, big, fat, glorious mess and to pretend anything else is a complete and utter lie. Embracing that mess and being a very comfortable part of it is where it’s at.
The reason I decided to write this post was because of my younger friends who still have so many more years ahead of them than I do. Don’t get caught up in the small things… as my friend Margie loves to say: “don’t sweat the small stuff.” It’s 100% true. The small stuff does not matter. Think big, think bold and think beautiful! We really only have this one earthly existence that we know of and we have to do something incredible with it. Lots of incredible things, in fact. One incredible moment strung into the next!
It’s the weirdest sensation, but I’ll say it again… forty is a definite shift to a space of absolute contentment. Contentment in simply being. This is what it’s like to be middle-aged and defy the norms. This is what it’s like to live to your highest potential and most perfect personal power. This is what freedom means. This is where joy stems from. This is forty. And it’s f**king fabulous!
Cheers to all the fabulous forty year olds (and older) out there, not giving a shit and simply being the best that they can be! I salute you! May we continue to rock this life until our last breath!