Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Life Begins at Forty

I remember when my mom turned forty—I would have been eight—and she got this card that read “Life begins at forty,” which was considered a great joke at least by Dad. I’m sure I didn’t really get it, but I do recall repeating it much to the amusement of my parents, at least the first dozen or so times.

The funny thing is, though, there’s probably more than a grain of truth there; at least for me, life—or, anyway, much of my current life—did begin at forty, and I’ve been thinking that, as I cast about for my next career, post-academia at some point down the road, that I might make some real hay (or even better, in the old Damon Runyon slang, “lettuce”) out of building upon this.

At forty, I bought a house, had a kid, started doing yoga seriously, and began flossing my teeth on a regular basis. I’ll bet that by the time that I’m seventy or so, I can create a program for young whippersnappers of forty to get their shit together for the next thirty or so years of their lives.

I’ve heard lots of people say they are too old to do something or another when the are forty. Aside from becoming an Olympic swimming champion and probably an Abercrombie and Fitch model, I don’t think there are really that many things outside of one’s potential at a mere four decades of age.

There’s a well-known Ashtanga teacher, Lino Miele, who I understand didn’t really start practicing until after forty. And the mystery writer, Raymond Chandler didn’t write his first book, I think, until his fifties.

Forty seems young to me these days, although to tell the truth, I don’t feel any older now than I did ten years ago. I’m a little more wrinkled and a bit grayer, but dim lights and hair bleach more than make up for that.

Here’s a scary thought: “life begins at fifty.”


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