I’m 40 years old. Let me tell you how it happened. I went to bed one night, and the next day I woke up and it was my birthday, my 40th birthday. It happened just like that.
I remember my father’s 40th birthday very well. I was ten years old, and we threw him a surprise party. We knocked over a potted plant and rushed to vacuum the floor minutes before he arrived. I remember his “oh geez” reaction when he stepped onto the porch and realized what was going on.
I thought he was old at the time. “Over the hill.” To 10-year-old Nathan 40 felt like an eternity away. A place veiled by the elder generation and by the mystique of adulthood. But here I am. I can see behind the curtain. The mystery of middle age that was hidden by my youthful eyes is now revealed. The man behind the curtain is a version of me that pops Advil for achy muscles and prefers not to stay out past 11 o’clock.
I’m okay turning 40 because I have no regrets about how I lived the first four decades of my life. For sure, it hasn’t always turned out the way I expected, and there were times of real struggle, but it was all worth it. I traveled to the world. I met wonderful people. I’ve accomplished things I didn’t think were possible. I’ve loved and lost, and from it all, I grew into the person I am today.
For my 40th birthday, I wish for wisdom over youth. In a culture that idolizes youth and beauty, embracing age and wisdom seems far more subversive. I used to swim in the shallow end where it was all splash and play, quick ins and outs, my feet always touching the bottom. Now I find my place in the more dangerous deep where the water is darker, the bottom unsure. I learn to breathe with the rips and the pulls and swells. When I swim with my eyes open the water reveals its secrets.
An ode to all the days I have remaining:
May I laugh earnestly, not insecurely
May I love generously, not fearfully
May I walk alongside, not ahead
May I journey deeper, not higher
May I grow in wonder, not doubt
May I seek richness, not wealth
May I run stronger, not faster
So that all my days remaining may be grand
A WRITER AND TRAVELER KEEPING THE FAITH IN LOS ANGELES