In most cases, one really doesn’t know if they’re going to live to 60 or 100. So, 40 is the middle. I can attest to that, because that’s how it feels when you’re right there. Right. There.
And when you’re right there in the middle, you actually have 3 choices. You can look at things half full, half empty, or both. Here’s my 20×2=40 analysis. [Blog update: my attention span and lack of time and creativity narrowed the list to 10×2].
1. Life is a football field
Full: At 40, you think back at all the good plays you’ve made since the 20 yard line, and feel a bit more of a sense of control over what the next 20 will bring.
Empty: You really starting to forget the minor details about how you got to the 20 yard line to begin with (was it a touchback or did you get drilled bringing the ball out?). And at this point you’re basically dreading everything after your opponents 40 yard line (post age 60). That’s when they’ll really be smacking you upside the helmet, and the end zone is technically just a nursing home.
Full: Not only do you long for new things – places to go, experiences to enjoy – but now you’re likely to be in a better financial position to make good on them. Plus, despite your age you’re starting to get a bit more daring.
Empty: You’re pissed if you’re not in that better financial position to partake. Either way, just when you start thinking it was your idea all along, somebody will gift you a copy of 100 Places to Go Before You Die. They might even sign the inside cover with “because you have less and less time remaining.”
3. Weight control
Full: At 40, you really feel like you know how your body will react when you go through stretches of eating or exercising a certain way. It is quite liberating.
Empty: At 40, you anticipate going through stretches where you care even less about how you’re body will react, and you actually might inadvertently prolong those stretches. It is quite frightening.
4. It kind of Depends
Full: At this age, the cashier at CVS won’t end up judging you if you resort to adult diapers . After all, the ability to make it through the night without emptying your bladder, especially if on that night you’re out drinking beer, is becoming a near impossibility.
Empty: Who are you kidding? It will be humiliating. Plus, 1) they don’t check ID’s when you buy Depends and 2) You’re in your 40’s, not your 80’s.
5. Speaking of checking ID’s
Full: It will be even more satisfying every time you get carded.
Empty: There will be that first time when the bouncer snortles when he’s done doing the math
6. You know yourself
Full: At this point, you know yourself.
Empty: If you don’t like certain aspects of yourself, you’re basically SOL. And the parts that you don’t know yet make you more of a screw-up than unique.
7. …and you know what food you like
Full: The chances of you going to a restaurant and ordering something you don’t like are at about .0003%
Empty: You’re so “experienced” that you can order the most exotic thing on the menu, and you know exactly what it’s going to taste like before it purses your lips.
8. People will listen
Full: Co-workers, your kids, people reading this blog post. Even though you’re just a day older than you were yesterday at 39, you’ve got a ton more experience than you did back then.
Empty: Post 40 you’re subject to ageism in the workplace, your kids are more likely to think you’re old, and some people will think that a millennial has more relevant things to say. You’ll start thinking that they’re all kind of right.
9. You’re smaaat (you even misspell things intentionally)
Full: Nursery, elementary, middle, high, undergrad, graduate – you’re one smart dude(tte).
Empty: You can actually feel the fullness of your brain, and the lack of additional space. And each time you drink you have fewer cells in which to store new information. When you sleep, the knowledge is just seeping out of the back of your head at this point.
10. My Chairlift Analogy
This is the perfect one to end on, since I’ve already used this on several people and tell it differently each time, either with a glass half full, or half empty spin.
Full: For the first 20 years, you were just taking the chairlift up the mountain, looking around, figuring out what looked good down below. Today, you literally get off at the top and start the fun part: enjoying the powder on the way down the mountain.
Empty: (Talk about a no-brainer metaphor.) It’s all downhill from here, baby, and you might as well install a hospice in the ski lodge.
On that lovely note, I raise my glass to being 40. Luckily, despite having drunk half my beer while writing this, my glass is still half full (and half empty, crappers).