Thursday, January 30

Forty Years of Chainring

The Chainring Dynasty has so far endured for a generation.  In other words: I’m forty today. 

I've averaged getting one year older each year.  Each year I age twelve months averaging twelve months older per year.  In forty years I've totaled forty years of aging.  Ha!

Forty is a good number if spelled a bit counter-intuitively.  What’s wrong with fourty?  Well, what’s wrong with the English language that four isn’t spelled “for?”  They (I’m not saying who) say life begins at forty.  Forty is the code for direct dial international phone calls to Romania.  Thirty years ago I discovered The Boss and bought my first album—Born in the USA—after listening to the American Top 40.  There were forty thieves.  There are (stupidly enough) forty hours in the western work week.  All of these fun forty facts can be found by typing “40” into a Google search and clicking on the Wikipedia article that ensues.  Well, not the one about the Bruce Springsteen album.
Turning forty doesn’t bother me.  I feel better than I did at thirty.  In some ways I feel younger even.  At thirty I had a one year old son, I was working two jobs and going to school full time.  I’d basically given up rock climbing because I didn’t have time and was too much out of shape.  I had dived back into cycling after a few year hiatus.  Well, maybe I was trying to get back into cycling; running out on the Cannonball once every six months for a twenty mile ride and thinking I was an epic adventurer.  The summer of my thirty-second year I bought the Giant OCR2 and started trying to be a “serious” cyclist.  At thirty-five I became a full-time bike commuter.  So it’s really been in the last five years that I’ve started working hard at getting myself back into acceptable shape. 
I see my forties and fifties as the prime of my life.  I’m finally mature enough, smart enough, and getting to be in shape enough to enjoy life, and to live to the fullest.  And when I say “enough” I don’t necessarily mean “more than you.”  I’m just finally getting somewhere in my own personal development.  Now I’ll fall into the 40-49 age category at events instead of the 30-39 group.  I might really start to shine by the time I hit the 50-59 file folder. 
Forty seemed old to me until I turned thirty.  And since then I’ve looked at forty as kind of a magical age.  It’s the age that used to seem old but now seems normal for me.  And I don’t feel old.  Looking onward fifty doesn’t seem old to me anymore.  Sixty…well, sixty is up in the air.  I know some pretty healthy and active sixty year olds.  By sixty it shows how you’ve taken care of yourself.  By sixty there’s no hiding a rough life. 
I once heard that your forties is a good time to get into mountaineering or endurance activities.  It’s all relative I guess.  Endurance makes more sense when your recovery times are longer and you might not have the same fast twitch capabilities you had in your late twenties.  Djeph and I were talking the other night about seeing lots of guys crushing bike events and you hear that they’re forty-five. . .forty-two.  Something like that.  Maybe that’s just the two of us old men (at forty) trying to make ourselves feel older.  Er, better.  See, my mind isn’t really going.  If it were I wouldn’t have caught that slip at all.
I'm a child of the Seventies.  I was born at the end of the OPEC oil crisis.  The world has become more and increasingly car-centric my entire life.  In my short lifetime I've watched the world go from analog to digital, from corded to wireless, from rooms full of computer banks to enough technology in your hip pocket to pilot a spaceship to the moon.  I watched Star Trek: TNG and marveled at the PADD's the characters carried around, but these days I have a smaller version in my pocket that connects me to more information than Arthur Dent's battered copy of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  I became a photographer in the film era and learned to shoot digital.  The year I was born the global population was 4 billion.  In forty years it increased by more than 75% and within the next ten years—by the time I'm fifty—the world population will have doubled in my lifetime.  My generation didn't go from no running water to seeing man walk on the moon like my grandparents', but my generation will see a much greater span of human development; and perhaps even a devolution of society if our consumption versus capacity reaches critical levels in our lifetime.   
My family keeps me young.  My interests keep me young.  My hard-wired compulsions and obsessions keep me young.  In my fortieth year on the planet (do the math) I ran my first half marathon; I rode what, five centuries and attempted a sixth?  I entered two mountain bike races.  I’ve gotten myself way over extended in bike advocacy and the like.  I climbed Cobhill.  If you don’t think that’s a big deal then go do it for yourself.  Despite not losing any weight this year I’ve gotten faster and gotten used to riding farther.  I fully intend to get back into rock climbing this year and exceed the abilities I had when I quit.
This is all about my recreational activity.  And maybe I’m just not in the state of mind to discuss my heart and soul.  There’s a lot going on behind the scenes.  I didn’t get my Kickstarter campaign funded for my book, but I’m okay with that.  I’m working on the second draft and my intent is to shop it around to traditional publishing sources once I get it a little more polished. 
It’s been a turbulent year for me in my chosen career.  It was a year at a new and demanding job.  I’ve been fighting four decade-old demons along the way.  The one pro is that my demons are as old as me.  They’re starting to get a little run down themselves.  But the dragon of Doubt is as strong as ever, and until I slay him too much of my energy is being diverted to that front.  You’d think at forty I’d have self-doubt under control. 
Anyway, my intent is not to give up and die at forty.  I feel good.  I’m not grieving my age like some I know (you know who you are J).  Being the eternal optimist that I am. . .okay, I forever insist that I’m a realist and I still maintain that. . .I feel that my best years are still ahead of me.  I don’t have to try and relive my glory days because I’m going to get to savor them as they come to me over the next couple of decades. 
 
As happy 39 years ago as...
 
...I am these days
 

 

5 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday!!!! Forty is not old, nor is fifty, otherwise I'd be ancient!

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  2. Happy Birthday!

    I remember hearing my parents' friends talking about getting older as I was growing up, and I always remember the few who would state, "Age is just a number," or "Age is a state of mind." I really do believe that it's just a number though, and as the years pass by we get to learn all sorts of fun (or not) lessons and we finally start to understand who we are, who we want to be, what we want to be doing, and so on. We are so fortunate to live in an era that allows us to advance into old age. Most of us would be dead by now if we'd been alive during the 18th century, so I am grateful to live in our modern age - despite the flaws that sometimes come along with technology and modern medicine.

    Well... that was a more depressing paragraph than I intended. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that in today's world, you are young with much life still in front of you... there is much of the world left to conquer and lots of time to do just that.

    Happy 40th! I hope you're enjoying it and celebrating like no other birthday to date. :O)

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    1. I get what you're sayin' :) Thanks! I am enjoying it. Could have been more fired up about it, but in the end it really is just a number and today is just another day. Tomorrow I'll be 40 years old and 1 day. Does that mean anything special? Nah. On the other hand the passage of time hasn't gotten me down. At least I've got a better perspective than "one day closer to the grave." It's all good.

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    2. Yes, I think it's much better than a "one day closer to the grave" mantra! :O) Glad you enjoyed, too. Keep celebrating.

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  3. Happy (belated) Birthday! 40 eh? Prime time to learn how to luge I would say.....

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