Some Thoughts on Turning 39


Sometime during the night, between three and four in the morning, I will finish my thirty-ninth year on this planet and begin my fortieth.

Considering there have been nine leap years (and one skipped leap year in 2000) since I was born, calculating my precise age requires a little bit of math.

I was born on June 30th 1978. That means I have been alive for 468 months… or 2,034 weeks… or 14,245 days…

That feels like a lot.

So, thirty-nine-ish trips around the sun and I feel like I’ve learned a fair bit and want to share some of those thoughts.

Shoes are important – both in comfort and style.

I prefer to overdress. If I show up overdressed the worst someone could say about me is that I was uninformed. If I show up underdressed the worst they can say is that I didn’t give a shit.

Give a shit. There is a well-documented art of not giving a fuck, but there is an equally important art of knowing what to give a fuck about in order to achieve the things you really give a fuck about.

Hats and scarves are awesome.

Dignity and pride in yourself come from treating others with dignity and respect. It’s much easier to feel good about yourself when you make others feel good about them.

Try to not be creepy. Ever.

Don’t be afraid to tell your kids you were wrong. It teaches them humility and fallibility. Both are good things to help us all improve.

I think being on-time is important. I prefer to be early and maximize the experience, rather than be late and feel rushed. It’s okay to be late to certain things, as those things shouldn’t have had a deadline to begin with.

No matter how much I try, I will never be great at grammar;

Caffeine is a magical drug, but sleep is more magical. Set aside a day now and again to sleep late, watch TV in bed, or read a book. You don’t have to do this alone, in fact, it’s better when you’re not.

There isn’t going to be a huge number of people who really get you – but there will be some. Make an extra effort with them.

Don’t have dreams you don’t ever pursue. Try. Whatever it is you dream of doing, try. Even if that effort starts with checking a book out of a library. The smallest effort creates an avalanche of excitement. If you dream of being a doctor, start with a medical textbook. If you dream of being a musician, write some songs. If you dream of traveling the world, pick a destination and work toward getting there. Even if you never fully realize the dream, you’ll learn a lot along the way and have some great times in the process…

…and sometimes the process is the better part.

Travel. As much as you can. If you can’t travel, visit other cultures. Meet people who aren’t from where you’re from. The more you talk to people from everywhere, the more you realize how alike we all are. Ask real questions and really listen to the answers.

Stand up for equality. Real equality. As a cisgendered, heterosexual, (reasonably) white male, I recognize I have power, privilege, and access not everyone has. Being part of a chorus that allows others to sing the same song doesn’t diminish your voice.

Eat less sugar… you’ll feel better.

Watch more comedies… you’ll feel better.

Read more stories where people change the world… you’ll feel better.

Read more stories, watch more movies, and watch more TV shows where the hero doesn’t look anything like you, isn’t from where you’re from, and sees the world differently. They’re still the hero.

Eat foods from different cultures. Ask the waiter how to eat it if you don’t know.

Not all news is fake. Check the source. Read things from the other side of the political spectrum, and dismiss immorality and political nonsense out of hand. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work. Tax cuts aren’t always good. Err on the side of humanity. Care about your fellow citizens and not just their or your money. Be less politically selfish and at the same time don’t necessarily vote against your own self-interests. Often they align but sometimes paying a little more taxes so that kids have healthcare is a good thing.

Donald Trump is not a good President.

Don’t add raw garlic to a protein smoothie ever. You’ll regret it.

if you have kids, play with them. Sports, Board games, word games, video games. Don’t be afraid to be silly. People who can’t be silly aren’t to be trusted.

If you have kids take the time to learn about their passions. Learn how Pokemon works, learn gymnastics terminology, learn how to escape prison in Roblox. It shows your kids that what they do is also important and that you care.

Avocado toast is awesome.

Watch sports. Boxing isn’t just two people hitting each other, it’s the sweet science. MMA is a chess match on canvas. Baseball is a delicate dance of probability and statistics. Rugby is elegant violence.

Professional Wrestling isn’t what you think it is… unless you think it’s awesome.

Ask for free stuff. You’d be surprised how often you get it.

Listen to music. Find the stuff you love and listen to it a lot. Find the stuff that makes you smile. Find the stuff that makes you cry. Find the stuff that speaks to you.

Take more baths. There is something about submerging yourself in water that is good for the soul. Use bubbles.

Take some time to learn how to drink properly. There is nothing wrong with shots, but learning how to appreciate the complexity of a craft cocktail is very rewarding. Learn what type of beer you like… there is one out there for you.

Cook… sometimes for your family, but also cook for yourself. Also, cook for friends. If you can’t cook, learn. It’s a skill that will never fail you in life.

Stop doing things you don’t like unless they’re required. Also, camping is bullshit.

Visit more museums. Museums are gateways into someone else’s mind. It’s the closest you’ll ever get to being able to read thoughts. Occasionally you’ll be struck with so much beauty you’ll want to weep – more often you’ll look at something and not know what the fuck is going on.

Books are time machines. They’re moments and thoughts captured and recorded like the grooves in a record.

Music can also be a time machine. Pick an album you loved twenty years ago, put it on and close your eyes. You’ll find yourself yanked backward.

As you get older, take some time to reflect on who you are and what you believe… but just as important why you believe what you do. Be a tenacious evaluator of yourself and do your best to continue to improve.

Write shit down. Your thoughts, your frustrations, your triumphs.

Write poetry, even if you never read it again.

Know you’re beautiful, whoever you are.

Don’t be afraid to let go now and again. Be a little reckless. Be a little adventurous. Try new things.

Find people who love the things you love and talk to them about why you love them.

Dance. In the kitchen, in the shower, on the subway, in the car – dance.

Don’t be intimidated by people who are better educated, have more experience, or talk in a louder voice. Even the best of us is occasionally full of shit.

Do things that make your friends comment, “YAAASSSS.” Praise feels good. There is nothing wrong with seeking it out.

Ask them questions. Ask a Physicist about physics. As a chemist about chemistry. Those people spent years learning their craft. Learn from them – not just about their subject, but about them and why they love their subject.

Be Intellectually curious, never stop asking questions, and never stop learning.

In 365 1/2 Days I’ll be 40. I’m going to do my best to wrap up my first forty with moxie before I start the second half of my life.

Here’s to trying for ten more leap days.

~M


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *