Turning 40 is a mind trick. Whether you're right or wrong, it's hard not to mark this birthday as the halfway point; give or take a few years. I've tried to encompass it all. A few months ago I think the inevitable march toward the "middle" held me up more than it did on the actual day.
Still I find myself trying to make sense of what turning 40 means. It's funny to watch people celebrate this milestone. 40 is a reason to do something major and I felt it for a while - the need to go big. And then I had a serious talk with myself about getting out of debt and being responsible (ah being an adult). I guess that's what turning 40 feels like and why I dreaded it on some level. I really can no longer lie to myself. In the past few weeks though, I've come to enjoy the honesty I'm facing.
But 40 also feels like two girls giving me hugs in the morning as we eat cake for breakfast. Two girls growing so quickly and the silent aching joy I get watching freckles pop on a 5-year-old face. The pride I have when a 2 year old fights back and the terror I feel imaging that teen. Hearing "I love you" and believing that's the true gift (and knowing I got myself the gift I really wanted instead of waiting for someone else to give it to me).
40 feels like a quilted blanket of friends from many phases of my life. Fifteen years with the same partner and so much learned about commitment. Friendships have come and gone. There are also those just getting woven in to the pattern. The past few years, I've hated coming to understand that inevitable evolution of all friendships. Now I just hold pride in the moments we have together - however brief or long. There is a warmth of a lifetime of memories already. And still, a lifetime more of memories and friendships to come.
I took a quiet moment of gratitude this weekend. Thanking my body for all the years it has never failed to carry me or do the things I asked or demanded. I'll take the trade off for all the times of competitive play, climbing 14ners, Saturday runs, pregnancy and on a yoga mat. I can think back through many moments over this lifetime where I never worried about what my body could do (except breastfeeding - that was BS, body) and as I grow older, I realize the sheer indulgence of that.
It would be no surprise to say my life to this point hasn't had much grace. But the beauty part about turning 40 is I'm okay with that; I'll wake up tomorrow and try again. I've stolen moments in the mirror looking at the sunken places where my eyes come to rest. As of late, I've come to focus more on the darkness and less on the blue of my eyes. Though now I approach the mirror as an old friend. Not a place of validation for my hard-earned physique or a place of despair about what I am not. As I raise two girls, I understand how utterly important it is that I greet this face as positively as I do theirs every morning.
I feel young and old at the same time. A long deep breath in and a long deep breath out. It's taken me forty years to sit in one spot and start to train my mind as much as I train my body. I can master my existence. I wonder how much I can shape what will happen? I'm too old to ignore the moments that have taken place; the choices I have made; the person I am. I'm too experienced not to believe in life's ironic unfolding. I'm too young to loose hope in what still may be headed my way.