Tomorrow I turn 40, and I don’t give a shit. I mean it. I didn’t care about turning 30 or 35, and so far almost-40 feels fine.
However, experience has taught me that I can be a master of self-deception. I’ve been known to be nonchalant in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, then get REALLY upset when my poor boyfriend hasn’t arranged anything. Honestly, I’m as shocked as he is when this happens. Oops.
So I’ve been observing myself, as if I were David Attenborough patiently, carefully, eyeing a small prairie animal as it emerges from its burrow.
“Will the nearly-40-year-old suddenly collapse on the sidewalk, panicked by the fact that there will soon be a 4 at the start of her age? Will she undergo a crisis, sink to her 40-year-old knees, and sob uncontrollably at the uncontrollability of the aging process?”
So far, there has been an occasional crisis. But none have to do with my birthday.
Some relate to my knee. During my last session with him in Australia, my physio told me – twice – “the next few months are going to be really frustrating for you”. Sometimes I wonder if he has psychic powers. Not being able to do my full range of yoga, or run, or surf as a result of the surgery makes me extremely insecure. When I take a David Attenborough-view of myself, I’m amazed how self-doubting, indecisive and antisocial this insecurity almost constantly makes me.
And some of the crises have occurred as a direct result of two intense competitive desires: for (1) a home and a relationship, and (2) freedom and independence. Sometimes it feels as if there are two parts of me pulling in opposite directions, and I feel at a loss to deal with such fiercely opposing forces.
I know what I’ve done historically: I’ve chosen freedom in the form of fleeing for the hills. Now this no longer feels right – as much as I might want to bolt, it is abundantly clear that I will regret it deeply and fast. This fact really pisses me off, but I can’t deny it.
Something has changed, which means relinquishing some old habits and behavior. That pull for freedom is tempting, it probably always will be, but from somewhere the pull to stay has emerged as stronger.
And at almost-40, through the crises and injuries and letting go, I’m emerging as stronger too.