Originally Published: June 30, 2012 10 p.m.
I'm writing this on Wednesday. By the time you read this in the Sunday paper, I will have been 40 years old for HOURS.
Holy cow. 40. The decade years are always sort of eye-opening.
When I turned 20, I thought, "Well, at least I'm not some teenage kid anymore." When I turned 30, I thought, "Well, at least I'm not some punk 20-year-old anymore." (For the sake of completeness, I'm wracking my brain to remember what I thought when I turned 10. Probably "I love cake!" Actually, I still say that I love cake, but when I was 10, I wondered why adults didn't just survive on a diet of cake since they had no one telling them what to eat.)
I think that everyone has plans for "by the time I turn 30, 40, 50, 130, etc." I'm no exception. Admittedly, I've chosen my goals for those decade years rather poorly. I do not live in a mansion. I do not drive a jet-cycle. I do not use my superpowers daily to thwart a contingent of ninjas that are hell-bent on taking over the world.
Still, I don't tend to dread my birthday. In fact, I love my birthday. All birthdays. Everyone's birthday. It's like having a holiday just for you.
And far from thinking that turning another year older is "just a number," I tend to eagerly anticipate what the next year will bring. You know, BESIDES bringing me one year closer to death.
But still, 40. I remember my mother's 40th birthday (30 years ago. Nothing makes you feel older than when you remember things that happened THIRTY YEARS AGO!). All of her sisters showed up. My dad got her several "Over the Hill" decorations. My cousins and I played and played. And I remember thinking one important thing: "Gee, you're old, Mom."
A thought that I now think was terribly unfair. Forty isn't THAT old. Not like, you know, 50.
And I don't feel 40. In many ways, I still feel 15. I still eat too much Lucky Charms cereal. I can still enjoy a good cartoon. But most of all, I still do foolish, foolish things.
For example, to usher in my 40s, I'm doing something that I've always wanted to do: sky-diving.
So, on my birthday, I will be leaping out of a plane with a stranger strapped to my back. I didn't choose to have the stranger; evidently they make you do that the first few times just in case you are thinking, "Oh no, what have I done? Oh no, OH NO, OH NO NO NO NO NO!" and forget to release the chute.
As per usual, when I've told friends about this, I've received the expected "Hope you have life insurance, buddy." I also had a friend tell me about his sky-diving episode, how the main parachute didn't open correctly, and how he and his tandem partner had to cut the line and open the auxiliary chute, and how the auxiliary chute was not rated to carry the combined weight of both of them. So, you know, good luck to me.
Another friend told me how he's had over 1,100 successful jumps from his time as a paratrooper. I liked his story more than my first friend's story.
So, I'm looking forward to my birthday, as I always do. And really, I don't feel bad about seeing the years add up. I always figure that another year older means another year closer to having the kids out of the house. And I like the person I've become over the past 40 years. I have a wife who loves me. I have four kids. And I've never exorcised the word "awesome" from my vocabulary.
As Benjamin Franklin once said "At twenty years of age, the will reigns; at thirty the wit; at forty the judgment."
Well, Benji, my wife says she's waiting patiently for the judgment to kick in.