ruminations on october, and the imminent onset of middle age.

It’s October! That’s my favorite month of the year for various reasons.

It’s New England autumn, which is the best place and season combination anywhere. The first frosts of the year kill off the last of the bugs, and there are falling leaves and pumpkins and long drives on country roads through forests that are so bright with color, it’s like nature showing off its entire sixteen trillion Pantone shades available in PlanetShop Pro. We have the pellet stove going (the dogs greatly approve), there’s apple cider in the fridge, and the farm stand out on 4A has those little homemade cider donuts that are terribly easy to eat by the dozen.

Then there’s my birthday at the end of the month, of course.

I was a bit ambiguous about this one, being the big four-oh and all. But the other day I was talking to an old friend from Germany, and I mentioned that I was dreading the 40th just a little. I mean, it’s the onset of middle age, and I don’t even have the cash yet for the Corvette I’m supposed to be buying for my midlife crisis, and how am I supposed to cruise up and down the street in front of the all-girls college with a dirty minivan that has old McDonald’s fries permanently incorporated in the interior?

Well, my friend recently lost his sister to cancer. She was a year younger than I am now. We lived on the same street, so we knew each other pretty well, although I hadn’t seen or spoken to her in fifteen years or so. She left behind a husband and two daughters that are barely teenagers. When I told him about dreading my 40th birthday a bit, he cut right through my silly little bout of self-pity.

"Don’t," he said. "Be happy instead. My sister would have loved to turn 40."

And you know what? He’s absolutely right. There’s not a damn thing wrong with my life. I have an awesome wife and two healthy and happy kids, we have food in the fridge, the bills get paid, the house is ours, and I get to do what I’ve always wanted to do with my life. (Actually, I suspect writing is the only thing I’m fit for, seeing how I’m not a huge fan of manual labor and the thought of returning to corporate Cubicleville makes me break out in hives.)

So bring it on, 40. I’m looking forward to the next decade. If things keep falling into place like they have in my Thirties, my Forties are going to kick major ass.

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19 thoughts on “ruminations on october, and the imminent onset of middle age.

  1. Penny says:

    40 is just another number – and I hope you have many more glorious numbers to make it through :) Happy birthday to you!

  2. Ali Trotta says:

    That’s a great way to look at it. It’s an opportunity. I happen to love October, too. The leaves! The sweater weather. It is also my birthday month. Plus, I love Halloween.

    So, here’s to a wonderful October and all the opportunities therein! *raises coffee mug*

  3. harp1034 says:

    My birthday is in Oct. also. I will be 60. Count your blessings and hope you make into your 90s.

  4. Richard K/Texas says:

    I found forty very liberating, and fifty even more so. It’s so nice not to have to think about whether something is ‘cool’ or not, so nice not to give a damn about anyone else’s opinion outside the family. I love my middle age, it’s the happiest part of my life. I am finally comfortable with myself and, as you say, it can be a time to be thankful for one’s life and circumstances. Would I want to be Brad Pitt, Bill Gates, or Obama? Hell, no! I love where I’m at, too.

  5. Bing says:

    May you live to be 100, and may I be around to dance on your grave.

  6. the pawnbroker says:

    Looking back seventeen years to turning forty in ’94, I realize that I was in my prime…I just wish I had better realized it then, and I would so love to turn forty again.

    Macro, the world is quite a bit more fucked up now than then,…but don’t let that distract or detract from what you already know; your micro world is a good place. Enjoy and appreciate every day.

  7. Larry says:

    That kind of has a way of putting it all into perspective, doesn’t it?
    Happy Birthday at the end of the month!

  8. wrolsen says:

    While I agree with all of the comments I think you need to know that “Middle age is ALWAYS five years in the future.

  9. Larry says:

    I just turned 60. Every decade has been better than the previous.
    I echo Richard K’s sentiments.

  10. ASM826 says:

    35 is the start of middle age. So it went by a while back. You were probably busy.

  11. Alan Fisher says:

    I found myself in my 40s with a near teenage son who had developed a sudden interest in Kendo. Seemed like good exercise so I went along. It is a little intimidating to find your first tournament has you already in the senior division. My second Black Belt of my life came a few years later when my first had been in my early 20s. Looking back from 15 years later, 40 was not so bad.

  12. Fred2 says:

    Better to be over the hill than under it.

  13. Lizzybeth says:

    My children are yours’ age (except I also have a 2-year-old Toddlersaurus); I am 44 and my husband is a SAHD as well. So, when my children do something foolish, we can honestly say from experience, “That will not turn out the way you think it will…”. When I was in my teens and 20’s, I didn’t expect to live to my 40’s because it seemed so oooold. It is a shame that we do not get the opportunity to to live our lives backwards, because the perspective gained in one’s 40’s would have been very useful in one’s 20’s. Happy Birthday!

  14. Bob says:

    Don’t matter how old you are, what matters is which side of the grass you wake up on.

  15. Jay G. says:

    Pfft. Youngster…

  16. misbeHaven says:

    Just think about everything that you’ve packed into the last 40 years, and then realize…

    …you’re only halfway there! You’ve probably got 40 more years to go, and that’s a long ride! Enjoy the second half as much (or more) as you have the first half. :-)

  17. libertyman says:

    I like this quote:

    October is the fallen leaf, but it is also a wider horizon more clearly seen. It is the distant hills once more in sight, and the enduring constellations above them once again.
    -Hal Borland

    Fall is the best season here in New England, and 40 is the age when things get better and better. You have more friends, more wisdom and your perspective begins to change. All good things.

  18. wmearl says:

    i once had a life style that made me almost sure I wasn’t going to live to forty, but I did and didn’t even blink as it went by. When I turned fifty my co-workers and the Library Patrons made a much bigger deal about it than I, and it was very cool to be so ancient – although I thought I was still in my thirties. At sixty I took the day off to try and come to the realization that I was old, which didn’t really sink in until the jogging stopped and the doctor visits increased. It does seem to be a marketing thing, your age, I am glad you have marked your forty years, especially glad that you are basically a fine fellow doing your best on your portion of civilization and civilized behavior.

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