Perspective: Fantastic Four(ty)

2015 has been, and still is, a landmark year for me. And to be fair, the term “landmark” must be used super loosely. On the one hand, it’s been a downer of a year – in the sense that in my circle of influence, at least, there has been much loss. I lost my boss at work earlier this year, and that seemed to have started a trickle effect. I can’t even count the number of friends and acquaintances who have experienced the loss of a loved one this year. For that, 2015 goes down in the books as a dark year.

But on the flip side, 2015 was earmarked to be my year. Why? Well, as tough to admit as it may be, 2015 is the year that I turned 40. Yes, another milestone to put under my belt. And it’s a crazy thing. I didn’t find the experience as emotionally draining as it was when I turned 25 (when life was full of “drama”). But it also wasn’t much of a cakewalk either. On the surface, I’ve been blessed to not “feel” 40 –whatever that means. I guess in my mind, turning 40 was always such a “foreign” concept. Life when you’re young moves at such a slow pace, but then you hit your mid-30s, and all of a sudden you wish for longer days, and maybe even longer years. But even still, as I am now officially 40, I still don’t feel it. And I guess that’s something I should embrace for as long as time will allow.

I know I don’t look the part. And I’m told that almost daily —from almost anyone, really. From the legions of bartenders who check my ID, to my colleagues at the office who still can’t fathom that I’m the age that I am. And while I know it’s not a bad thing, some days I wonder – do I even act my age? Maybe I do, and maybe I don’t. But what is definitely clear is that as I move along into this next century of my life, I am doing so with a new purpose and new frame of mind. After all, I’ve made it a point to live my life with an “evolving door” …meaning, re-invention is my personal key to unlocking what a new time and a new age has to bring.

In my mid-20s I shed almost 50 pounds, which were the lasting effects of multiple years of gaining the “freshman 15” at college. I always considered my weight a hindrance that kept me from realizing certain things – including living the life of a performer. My close friends know how much I wanted to sing and dance my way to the bank, but I let my physical being get the best of me. Needless to say, losing the weight was the first point of major evolution that I experienced, and things only went up from there. In my mid-30s I evolved my personal style from something cookie-cutter to one that is more bold yet laid-back and casual, with a little bit of street-sense to keep things a bit edgy. I happily embraced the mantra of “no new friends” (sort of), and began to worry less about what people thought about me, and more about what I thought about myself. And now, as I inch my way toward my mid-40s, I don’t really look ahead at what’s to come, but I’ve decided to embrace things as they come. My personal evolution involves a little bit of everything. And I take nuances from the various places that I travel to, the plethora of things that I see, the different bits of information that I read, and from experiencing life itself. From the little things that make my youngest nephew laugh and smile, to helping a close friend get through a tough time… every little piece of every little experience I have plays its own role in shaping who I become tomorrow. Evolution, after all, never ends.

One thing is for sure – I was NOT ready for the big 4-0. Part of my lack of readiness came from fear, which is a natural response. And another part came from the lack of knowing what’s next… again, another pretty standard notion. This time around, I didn’t handle my fear with the dramatics fit for a standing ovation at The Kennedy Center, which – in my heyday, was not something unheard of. This time around I decided to tackle my age head-on. I’d grab it by the horns, and steer it toward a direction that is right for me. And I decided that what’s right for me is to sharpen my mental abilities, focus on my physical being, and knowing my purpose… all of which should be a part of anyone’s personal map of evolution. But as a man entering his 40s, a heightened sense of realizing these things becomes even more important.

I love to read –anything from internet articles, adventure novels, and travel and style magazines. Reading keeps my mind in tune with ideas from the past, stories of today, and thoughts relevant for the future. And keeping my mind open to all sorts of subjects, keeps me young yet knowledgeable.

Physically, I have decided that I don’t want to be “fat and forty!” No disrespect to those out there who are fine with a little extra to love, but I want to come into this part of my life in the best shape possible. Exercise has become paramount in my day-to-day, and as I come into my 40s this focus has really changed the way that I approach nutrition and health. And noting the difference in how my clothes fit helps me pay less attention to what the scale tells me, and more attention to how I feel. I feel more confident, my skin is clear (Skin care, fellas, is another BIG thing to pay attention to! Thank you, Clinique Men.), and my endurance is better than ever.

And as my personal evolution continues on its trajectory, I have a new sense of purpose: to live a life that challenges me enough to never be afraid to step out of my box, and to make choices that will essentially make me happy. Surrounding myself with my family and friends is key, but also taking time for myself and doing and seeing things on my own keeps things fresh and interesting. I love being a son who makes my parents proud, a good brother to my siblings (who are equally good siblings to me), a responsible and super-fun uncle to my niece and three nephews, a dependable colleague, and a friend that gives and shares with no expectations in return. Though I demand respect, I am more than glad to reciprocate.

With my “30, flirty and thriving” days in my distant past, I am determined to make my 40s the most fantastic they can be. There are more countries to be explored, new opportunities to surface, fresh songs to sing, and culinary surprises to explore. Come along for the ride…

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