In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.
Wow, 40, what a concept! I'm still a young pup to those older than me, and an old lady to those younger. The population around me seems to be split evenly between the two.
My 30's were such a shocking decade to me. I have watched my two daughters grow from babies to young women. I have faced RA and overcome it as an obstacle in my life, and finished my Bachelorette. I've lost my grandparents and been abandoned by a sister and a father, but I have deepened the relationship with the family in my life. I've grown up and grown stronger. I feel ready for the next decade and whatever it brings, but I'm a little scared too. Now I know about the great curveballs that life can toss out and that it is not easy to knock them out of the ball park. I've lost much of the bravado of youth, that false confidence that you can often fool the world with, and sometimes yourself. It has been replaced with true confidence, the kind that comes from real success and not just the belief that I can succeed.
I listened to a book recently, (I love books on MP3,) called 5 Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die. What struck me about the book was not the secrets, because they are pretty obvious, but that they found they needed to pose their interview questions to people over 60. It seemed that before one reaches 60, time is rarely taken to reflect on life. I think that is where runners have an advantage. There are probably other fitness activities that provide time alone to reflect, but running is generally slow, (compared to biking,) and more often than not, solitary. For me it is hard to dwell on negatives when I run. If I do, I tend to run too fast and wear myself out, and then the endorphins kick in and I get over my negative mood. RA gave me the incentive to reflect, running gives me the time to reflect. I think most people reflect after 60 because they find themselves retired with time on their hands. The kids are grown and pressing needs just don't seem so pressing anymore. To achieve this earlier in life takes some sort of jarring event like an illness or accident, either to yourself or someone close to you. This is why I can never look on RA as a disaster; it has inspired me to do so much and enabled me to become so strong, much sooner than I would have otherwise. I would never wish bad events on the people, but I think we need them sometimes to remind us of the important points in life. Family, friends, love, and fun, need to be on our minds far more often than rivals, obstacles, and irritations.
I used to hate the timing of my birthday, but now I see the value in cracking open a fresh new calendar and having it also signal a new age too. I'm rolling into 2009 with a whole new decade ahead of me! There are a few things I know will probably happen in the next decade. I'll wave good bye to my daughters as they go off to college and enter the world as grown ups, we will retire from the military, and we will change houses again and again. What will I learn, what will I accomplish, where will I go? It is all ahead of me and how much joy I find is all up to me.