I became 40 while I was sleeping on a slab of ice, which could be seen as a reminder of things to come when I am hopefully at least twice as old. I used to think 40 is the age where you finally need to give up on the idea of being young and that this would make it an important milestone for me. It didn’t.
My birthday trip is coming to an end and with it my conscious effort of figuring out what it means to be 40. So far it looks exactly like late thirties. Of course I am growing older. My health is still fine and I can do what I did at 20, except I now know some of the problems I will have if I live long enough. Wounds heal more slowly and muscles hurt a day later than before.
To actually see and feel the changes I need to compare myself with me at a platypus age of 30. 20 year olds are getting younger and finally look as young to me as I do old to them. I am not confused anymore about how my age is perceived. Greyer head and deeper lines on my face took care of that, but physical changes are not yet important.
The biggest difference for me was changing my priorities. My work is still important to me, but not as important as people I love. I will never be my father, but I am finally becoming more like my memory of him.
I have heard it many times, but rarely observed, that getting a child betters a man by giving him something more important than himself. My wife has done that for me and latching on to her was the best thing I have ever done for myself. I can’t think of a positive change in me or my life that happened without her help.
Changed focus does not mean that my ambitions have become smaller, but I am fine with not achieving most of them. Wanting approval, let alone seeking recognition beyond my intimate circle now also seems silly.
There’s a direct parallel between my development as a developer and as a person. I don’t feel inept anymore, but the more I learn, the less important most issues and technologies become. However remaining important ones I likely see even as more important than before. Everyone should feel strongly about something.
By this age most of us will discover that a lot of the stuff we didn’t want to believe when we were younger is nevertheless true and that we are not as special as we hoped or even thought. There’s a new found freedom when you stop beating yourself for things you won’t be or do and that freedom can then be used to do the things, that you can do, better. Which is what I am doing now.