I don’t know how old you are. Nor do I really care. I’m much more interested in you. What you like, what you want, what makes you get up every day and continue to live.
If you’re in your twenties you probably think I’m really old. It’s okay. I’m not offended. When I was your age, I’d have thought the exact same thing. I mean fuck, you’re 22 or whatever. That’s young. You know nothing yet but that’s okay too.
You see, it’s the not knowing all that stuff that makes you the person you’re going to be. It’s how you learn and build and move on from the things you learn and the mistakes you make, that makes you, you and not some drone.
Now I’m in my 40s I am somewhat surprised to find that I don’t feel all that different to when I was 25 in the ways that actually matter. I have a few more lines around the eyes. It takes less cake to add pounds to my waistline. But I like fart jokes and swear words and junk food and have a healthy disdain for authority when it hinders me. I’ve made more mistakes than you. Hell, if you’re in your 40s you should have made mistakes and unless you’ve been in a coma since 1988, you will have.
And I'm not just talking about haircuts. Hell, I went to high school in the eighties, you don't get out of that unscathed.
My knees nowadays make little rustling noises when I do squats, and by God, if you hand me something and heaven forbid I lay it down someplace, the odds are fair that I’m going to totally forget where, within about five minutes. But I still lie on the floor, in my pajamas, watching movies on the weekend, I still have cold beer in the fridge. I still favor old Levi’s and slightly off beat fashion choices. I like outrageous shoes and gadgets and cuddling with someone I love. I still enjoy the myriad of exciting ways to utilize cheese. I still say way too many bad words and I continue to like new technology. And just sometimes, I still try to hide from my problems when it all seems too much.
I know it’s all bullshit. Today your forties are the youngest they’ve ever been. People who say “forty is the new thirty” are not just in denial. There’s some truth in that. Because we are not products of the “good old days” where people slammed out of high school and straight into the brick wall of heavy demands adulthood presents. We weren’t slinging around a baby on our hip when we were 19 because that’s what society told us to do, or married to the first man who asked and who demanded dinner on the table, several offspring and a pristine house full of grown up things as soon as we graduated high school. We didn’t become our parents or their parents when we reached twenty.
We are products of modern times, of pop culture, of punk rock, of youth in revolt. We grew up in a heady era of recreational drugs, of John Hughes movies, of social interaction, of serial killers, of dancing and bars, of independence and spiky hair, of ninjas and ludicrously inappropriate footwear and online chat rooms.
We use gaming consoles and watch independent movies and cook exotic foods and watch porn and drink too much vodka. We travel and write and play music and paint and start businesses and listen to iPods and use Photoshop and break up with partners and Twitter and blog and try inventive new cocktails and watch movies about zombies.
We’re not that different to you, we just have more lines on our faces. We are children of today and we never before had the opportunity to shine so brightly in our forties and beyond.
Now maybe you’ve reached forty and you still don’t realize entirely what you want, but I’ll bet you’ve learned a shitload about what you don’t want. You’ve lived a little and you’ve loved, hopefully a lot. You’ve loved good people and bad people and inappropriate people and people who’ve fucked you over and fucked you up, people who’ve made you appreciate mankind, cruel people, kind people, people who made you fearful, people who made you horny. The right person, the wrong one, the one who got away, the one you can’t get rid of, the one who saved your life, the one who makes you want to be the best person you can be.
Perhaps you’ve even birthed a new generation from your own loins, maybe you’ve divorced or you’re still happily married after twenty years. Maybe you are independently single with a cat, or you live with a partner, or you’re desperately unhappy with the person you’re with.
You’re still capable of indecision, of cowardice, of taking the wrong road. You’ve made mistakes, you’ve learned from those mistakes, but you’re still making mistakes regardless. Being human doesn’t have an age limit. You don’t wake up one day and magically find that you’re perfect because your age has gotten larger. You will fuck up whether you’re twenty or seventy, because when you’ve stopped fucking up, you know all there is to know and you might as well die.
The thing about reaching your forties is you are surrounded every day with media and news and websites and advertisements all trying to tell you that you’re washed up. That you can no longer leave your house unless you have wrinkle creams and medications and insurance to pay for your funeral. You’re no longer relevant. You’re practically dead. You shouldn’t dress a certain way. You shouldn’t frequent certain places. You should behave in a certain manner. You should have particular things. You should have let go of particular things.
Nowhere does it say, “Hogwash! You should do the things that bring you the most happiness and if that means wearing a mini skirt when you’re 42 and still have perfectly great legs, or shooting mutant survivors of an apocalypse on your Xbox 360 while lying on the floor eating pizza and drinking a beer with someone you love, even though you’re 44, or parachuting out of an airplane when you’re 47 because you’ve always wanted to try it and you’re fit and excited and eager for new experiences, then so be it. If you’re 49 and like punk rock and Cuban cigars and dancing till dawn that’s okay. If you’re 46 and you want to tattoo a dragon on your ass because that would make you happy, get that tattoo. If you’re fifty three and you like skinny jeans and long hair then for fuck’s sake have those things or forever live in a bitter world of regret.”
Nowhere do they tell you to just be you, whatever age you are. That it doesn’t matter a goddamn rat’s ass what year you were born, it shouldn’t prevent you from doing something you really long to do to make your life fuller, just because it might give society the wrong idea.
Just be happy.
None of these people know you and if someone you do know tells you these things, maybe they don’t know you after all. Do what makes you happy and brings you enjoyment and raise a gigantic middle digit to anyone who tells you that you can’t do it because you’re too old.
Because it must suck to be them.
Just do it.