Wednesday, August 7, 2013

40 is the New 40

I know a lot of people who have had crises at thirty, and complete breakdowns at forty. There’s something about getting older that sets us on edge. I think it’s because we live in a world that prizes youth and beauty. (Thin and beautiful only at Abercrombie & Fitch.) We forget that we can be sexy at fifty (Venassa L. Williams, Greg Kinnear), vivacious at sixty (Oprah Winfrey, Pierce Brosnan), and still at the top of our game in our seventies (James Brolin, Vanessa Redgrave).

Age is a state of mind.

I am in the last hours of my thirty-ninth year. When I wake up tomorrow morning (Thursday, 8 August 2013), I will be forty. The big 4-0. I’m not traumatized by that. Actually, I’m excited to find out what my forties will bring. If my forties are anything like my thirties, I’m in for a hell of a ride.

You see, during my thirties I achieved a number of firsts. Three months after my thirtieth birthday, I garnered my first publication credit with my essay, “On Being Black.” And since then a dozen more of my essays, short stories and poems have been published. At thirty-two, I had my first solo exhibition of my paintings, “Unquiet Mind: Meditations of a Writer.” Building on that success, my paintings have appeared in several group and solo exhibitions in Ontario and Quebec. At thirty-seven, I held my first concert of my original compositions for piano. At thirty-eight, my first novel, Freestyle Love, was published. At thirty-nine, a great love came into my life. My thirties were years of great blessings.

I’m not listing all of these accomplishments to boast but to show that, during my thirties, I was committed to doing the things that I love to do. And good things happened. As I enter my forties, I’m still committed to doing the things that I love to do. That’s why I’m not “terrified” of turning forty; I’m embracing it whole-heartedly.

What I’ve learned over the past thirty-nine years is this: Life is short, so enjoy it. And I do enjoy life. I smile every day because it takes too much energy to be grumpy and disagreeable. Even when things aren’t necessarily going my way, I smile. I say, “Thank you,” to the bus driver, the cashier at the grocery store, the security guard in my building’s lobby. I make the time, in this rushed and hectic world, to do the things I love to do: writing, painting, music, reading, cooking, running, spending time with friends and loved ones. I don’t rush. Daily I give thanks for my health, my family, my friends, my life and all the blessings bestowed upon me. I don’t take anything for granted. I remind myself of the importance of being true to myself. As Polonius tells us: “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice; take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment. […] This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

The day is overcast, and the forecast calls for rain and thunderstorms. But as I sit and write here on the patio at Spot Coffee (City Place), the day is perfect. It’s perfect because despite the cold that lingers, the closed King Street West and Spadina Avenue intersection, the street noise that often wakes me up at night (I’m a light sleeper) it is yet another day that I am here to enjoy the beauty that is this world. At forty, that is what I’m celebrating!

1 comment:

  1. Happy belated, my dear! I wish you more decades of love and laughter.