I guess there are many ways one can go about turning 40. There is the classic midlife crisis moment where I could pull into the drive way in a new sports car and them have my wife kill me on the spot. I could wallow in misery that my life is half over and that I’m closer to the Denny’s senior discount then I am to being 21. For me, turning 40, was just another milestone in my life’s journey and one that has many more milestones to go.
My 40th was unique. I mean I was on the sidelines of the Bengals vs. Dolphins game photographing it. I woke up not feeling 40, my knees not so much. Had a nice dinner afterwards with the wife and kids, low key yet enjoyable. Of course my wife threw a surprise party later on with Storm Trooper models, but those details are few and far between. Blame the copious amounts of Johnnie Walker consumed. We did have a photo to remember the night by:
Turning 40 is part of the journey, but for the past 5 years or so my journey has been more about an awakening than about just living. I’ve always felt like I had a bear inside me who hibernates for years at a time, but when it awakens it’s restless and wants freedom. Well needless to say the bear has been awake and stirring restlessly inside of me.
I’ve never been one to follow rules and I question things. I’m not a fan of people telling me what to do because they were older or because they had job titles like “senior manager” or what not. Just because you have a bigger title or older doesn’t make someone right. I found myself rebelling more against people who were like that. I rebelled against the conditioned notion that I had to sit at a desk 40 hours a week and work for a big company and that is what having a successful life was. I felt trapped by the four walls of a cubicle and I wanted freedom and creativity. Two things working for someone else that you rarely, if ever, get.
Come to think about it, I rebelled against a lot such as the idea that by age 30 you need to have things figured out or that if you don’t do well in school you can kiss a great job goodbye. Society has these rules to life that we have to follow in order to be happy and successful and quite frankly they’re all bullshit. It took me 35 years to figure that out and 5 years later I’m happy that I don’t prescribe to what people think I should do or where I should work etc. Their opinions don’t make me happy or pay my bills so why should I be listening to anyone who isn’t me?
I also came to the realization that if I wanted to be free, creative and happy the only person stopping me was me. I was the impediment in my happiness. And it wasn’t because I was afraid of failure. Quite the contrary. If failing was an Olympic sport I’m a 3 time gold medalist. What I was always afraid of was success. Sounds weird but I was always afraid of success and the expectations that came with it.
There was also a voice in my head saying I’m not good enough or it will never work. That voice was always present and I didn’t know how to quell it. I began reading books such as Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” and Brene Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness” to try to figure out how to be the person I’m meant to be. And I’m not meant to be some office worker and wait till I’m 65 to finally live life. It took nearly 40 years to tame the negative voice in my head, but when I finally did; life looked so much better.
Meditation has become a daily practice for me as well. I’m not humming or banging cymbals with the fervor of a Buddhist Monk, but that meditation and practicing appreciation and gratefulness has changed my way of thinking as well. Living in the moment has helped calm me down. It also provided a better outlook on life. And I’ll tell you what, if you said this was me 10 years ago I would have laughed at you and then proceed to have road rage when someone didn’t use their blinker to get into my lane.
So I’m here to say turning 40 is not the end of the world. Unless Trump is still President after 2020 then it just might be. That being said, life is about finding you and what makes you happy. It took me 35 years to realize I’m not a robot and that I will not follow the same path society has for everyone.
I’m a creator and I’m going to create. I can create with my words and I can create with my photographs. I’m going to live life on my terms and not based on other’s opinions. If this is my so called mid-life crisis then it’s going to last the rest of my life. Turning 40 isn’t the end of life. It’s quite the opposite. It’s just the beginning.