My 40th birthday came and went in 2011 without much fanfare. So did my 41st in 2012. Part of it was because I didn't really feel like having a few dozen of my closest friends tell me how old I was, part of it was I was working hard on a mobile project for my day job.
I can't say that I didn't mourn the passing of my thirties -- jumping over the temporal barrier separating youth and middle age is something that you can't help but stop and notice -- but ultimately it was a more a bump in the road then a brick wall.
I've heard it said that forty is the new thirty. I don't know if it's said by rueful 40-year-olds wishing they were 30, but it's a sentiment I find myself agreeing with. Physically I don't feel that much different from when I was 30. I have a few more aches and pains than I at 30, but most of the time I feel better than I did throughout most of the last decade.
I'm certainly doing more. These days my wife and I coach softball, and last summer I played it for the first time. Granted, I wasn't very good, and most of the time we lost badly to the college students we were playing but it was an honest-to-God sport.
I can't say my 30-year-old self ever saw that one coming.
Forty also brought my return to the ski slopes. My daughter wanted to learn to ski, and our friends know of a good deal through their school's ski program, so we decided to do it. I was sore for weeks afterward, but it didn't keep me from skiing again this year.
I've been reading through a lot of old (circa 2003, 2004) Nuketown posts as I fix some long standing content bugs, and the thing that strikes me about that 30-year-old me is that he had a lot more time. Even with a baby, the thirtysomething me was still writing a hell of a lot.
Fortysomething's life is dominated by work and family. Writing and gaming is squeezed in to the odd spaces in between those things. I'm not complaining (well, not complaining that much). I love my kids and I get to do plenty of things that earlier me never experience. Coaching softball is exhausting but rewarding; spending a few hours building LEGOs with the kids while watching The Avengers is as rewarding as spending an afternoon playing HeroClix.
But ... I do miss it. I expect the unifying theme of my forties to be the struggle to maintain an appropriate Life/Work/Hobby balance. There's been a lot of talk about the Life/Work balance lately, which usually translates into family vs. job., but I think there's an important third component there: hobbies. Or "me" time. Or whatever you call it, I think we all need to take a break from the world for a few hours or we go a little insane.
In my forties I've struggled far more to find that time then I ever did at 20, 30, or 40. Of course, my fiftysomething self is probably looking back on this post ruefully and thinking about how much free time I had now...
They say you're as old as you feel, and I think there's a lot of truth to that. Oh sure, my shoulder's sore from throwing at softball last night, and it took a little longer to shake off that bad bounce on the ski slope, but I still feel good. Physically, mentally -- I don't feel middle-aged. I don't feel like I need to throw away all my geeky toys and be a serious adult; after 41 years I can safely say that you can have your geeky toys and be a serious adult. It just takes more work.