It wasn't until a conversation I had with my sister-in-law regarding upcoming birthdays and ages did I truly contemplate turning 40. When she noted, "ooooh, 40 years old, that's a big milestone", and asked, "What are you going to do for your 40th birthday?" I began to wonder; What shall I do? How shall I celebrate? Shit, I'm turning 40! Since my exquisite 21st birthday, quarter beer night in college, I've never been one to plan too much hoopla on my birthday. I've also never been one to get caught up in the increasing number size that comes with getting older. Turning 40, however, has been another story.
Since the average United States citizen lives to be 78 years old, and the average Knutson tends to live a couple handful of years longer, it seems that I'm very nearly in the exact middle of my life. Of course, there are no guarantees. My eating well, staying active, and fortunate genetics do not ward against everything fatal. We aren't born with an expiration stamp on our foreheads, and thus truly have no idea how long we get to live on this Earth. Over the past year, I've been asking myself a lot of questions about the first 40 years. In brief, the personal inquisitions include: have I accomplished enough, learned enough, and really used my time wisely? Have I challenged myself enough, gotten out of my comfort zone, and expanded my horizons? In retrospect, I feel as though I've squeezed more than a hundred years of living into these short forty. And in general, I believe, the answer to all of these questions is yes. The tougher questions, however, have an uncertain answer. Have I been as patient and generous as I could be? Have I truly listened? Have I shown enough compassion and forgiveness? Have I laughed and smiled enough? Do the people and creatures I love, know that I love them beyond a shadow of a doubt? All of these could be summed up by asking, Have I loved enough? And although I certainly hope so, I'm not so sure.
If I have another 40 years to hang around, I'm certain I will keep doing more of the same. I will continue to climb my beloved mountains, explore new and old trails, try new recipes, read more books, go on wonderful adventures - both near and far, and seek new ways to move, learn, work and play. The challenge for this next 40 is to answer the tougher questions with an absolute, YES. My intention is to face each day of the next 40 years with a more open heart; to increase acceptance and reduce the judgement, in this "ENFJ" personality; and to add more patience, joy, and laughter to my daily interactions with people. The next 40, will be full of love - without a doubt.
After all the fret and introspection, here it is, the day I turn 40, and it's just another day. Time marches on, and I intend to march with it. So onward I go, into the fifth decade of my life. Happy birthday to me, and cheers to the next forty years.