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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Fortysomething

by Ken Newquist / March 29, 2013

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.

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Comments

40 something bothers me naught, but I am told that 50 something may be an issue. My current plan is to re-evaluate the situation in about 7 years.

Yeah, fiftysomething will be a hell of a thing. Ideally I'd like to spend my 40s getting into better shape so that the 50s transition isn't so bad, but my geek fitness track record hasn't been so good the last few years.

Good read, Ken. At 36, I feel like I'm looking back on my 30s already. Used to be the days go slow, the years go fast but lately everything hurtles by. Slowing it all down and actually trying to enjoy, or at least appreciate what I have is my latest hobby.

Yeah, slowing down enough to be able to enjoy things is hard. Really hard.

We're not one of those crazy over-scheduled families -- the kids have softball and baseball and one or two monthly club activities, but our weeks are still packed with things to do. I'd love to just take a day in crash in the game room on a big bean bag chair and do nothing but read comics or play video games. I've done that once or twice over the last few months -- simply taken a vacation day and chilled -- but not enough.