21 weeks until the ride, but it’s only 1 week until a much more terrible and daunting event. Exactly one week from today, I turn 40. I know, I know. When I hear people complaining about turning 30, I think, “Poor you, asshole. Quit your crying!” But these changes in decades feel big, and despite meditation and acts of kindness, my brain keeps taking it to a dark place. In fact, the darkest of places—an incredibly harsh evaluation of all life decisions to date. Yes, my internal voice (which incidentally speaks like Julia Child now because I binge-watched the first season of her show) keeps running on a recorded tape loop about how little I’ve done in my 40 years, how much I’ve failed, how stuck I am, and that pretty much (no, every) life decision has been the wrong one. The 5 tasks take me out of it momentarily, but Julia’s voice steps right back in, whisking new terrible ingredients into this soufflé of regret.
But in the spirit of this blog and in this work that I more and more realize requires constant vigilance, you are going to witness the transformation. Right now, as I type this, I am vowing to throw the regret soufflé on top of the compost heap piled high with all the other items of self-hatred that I’ve worked so hard to throw out these past few months. Instead, Julia’s going to talk me through something less delicate than a soufflé—something more sturdy, like one of those weird, hard loafs of German bread that are shaped like bricks and just as hard. And instead of honing in on 40 years of mistakes, I’m going to focus on this last year—the year when I clawed myself out of a self-imposed grave to finally get to some sunshine, when I got some articles published, when I made some new friends, when I made some changes to better myself. And I’m going to focus on the year coming up—the year I dedicate myself to a crazy fitness goal, the year when I have the chance to make new decisions, do new things. Damn it, 40 is going to be the year of hope! 40 is going to be the year where I look forward instead of constantly back. No, scratch that, it’s going to be the year when I am grateful for every present moment and realize the hope in every second!
OK, that last part is just crazy. That’s too lofty a goal. Sorry, the Julia Child in my head got really carried away—you know how she gets (have you ever seen someone get so worked up about omelets? Jeez!) But there’s some truth there. I can be grateful for what I have, I can choose to think differently, see differently. And now we have our hopeful German bread. Thanks for bearing with me as I work through that.
I went for a bike ride this Saturday that was a little longer than the ones I’ve done in the past, and for some reason it was a particularly hard one for me. At one point, while climbing an especially long and seemingly never-ending hill, I really wanted to give up, but I was many miles away from home so there was no other option but to keep going. And as much as I didn’t want to, as much as it hurt, I had to keep pedaling. And it wasn’t so bad. No, I’m lying. It hurt like hell. But I got to the top of the hill and had the amazing pleasure of coasting down the other side. I don’t mean to get all cliché with the life is like hills and valleys thing, but this fear of 40 brings that moment to mind. I think that’s a better way of looking at my 40s, at any decade that I might have the privilege of entering—just keep pedaling and you’ll get there. And with that, I’ll see you when I’m 40.