Black Balloons by Deb Jennifer

In a little over a year, I’ll be 40.  Yep, FORTY.  Back when I was a kid, a teenager, even in my twenties, this was completely impossible to imagine. 

40 is where you have a party with black balloons.  Friends give you cards with pictures of tombstones and jokes about being “over the hill.” Some people avoid this by staying “39” as long as possible.  Me, I’m going to embrace 40.  I’m loving where I’m at.  No way would I want to go back and relive the angst of my 20s and early 30s. 

There’s something wonderful about this age.  My temperament has changed.  I’m far more patient.  More mellow.  And at the same time, I’m more willing to take risks – not the incredibly stupid risks I took as a teenager and young adult, but the more positive, life changing ones.   Another great thing I’ve found is that the older I get, the less and less I care about what people think.  I used to live in fear of judgment.  Now I’m just happily living my own life the way I want to.  And I think, contrary to what folks say, as I get older my brain works better in some ways.  My memory may get worse, but my ability to be creative, to make connections and giant leaps seems to be improving.   I just read an article in Time magazine that seems to back up my theories.  Here’s a quote: 

“You may not pack so much raw data into memory as you could when you were cramming for college finals, and your short-term memory may not be what it was, but you manage information and parse meanings that were entirely beyond you when you were younger. What’s more, your temperament changes to suit those new skills, growing more comfortable with ambiguity and less susceptible to frustration or irritation. Although inflexibility, confusion and even later-life dementia are very real problems, for many people the aging process not only does not batter the brain, it actually makes it better.”

So there you go – scientists now believe that our brains actually improve as we grow older.  Certainly there are plenty of examples (these few were taken from Wikipedia) of artistic temperaments that came to fruition a little later in life:

Anna Mary Robertson Moses (aka Grandma Moses) started painting in her seventies

Henry Miller’s first novel came out when he was 44

Charles Bukowski — first novel at 49

Raymond Chandler — first novel at 51

And Laura Ingalls Wilder was in her 60s when she started publishing

Maybe it’s not so bad on on the other side of the hill.  So grab a black balloon and head on over.  There’s a hell of a party going on. 

10 Replies to “Black Balloons by Deb Jennifer”

  1. I turned 40 this year… and don’t have any problem with it (though I don’t love the gray in my brunette, but that’s easily fixed). I don’t hide it, am in fact pretty proud of it. I’m 4-0, Four-tee, woo!

    Nothing wrong with that!

  2. I love this post, Jennifer! There are times I feel like I’m coming in late to this publication game (I’m 40 next year, like you) and then I’m like, it’s perfect. Absolutely perfect. The best is yet to come!

  3. Oh, Mia and Jennifer, welcome to the decade! I was 46 when my book came out. And you know what? I could really appreciate it in a way I couldn’t have when I was younger (not to mention I couldn’t have written it in my 20s or early 30s–I didn’t have the life experience yet). The Forties ROCK.

  4. The other side of forty is the best place to be, imho. I wouldn’t trade it for twenty or thirty. I like the idea that us oldsters can “parse meanings that were entirely beyond us when we were younger.” My memory isn’t as good as it used to be, but I think I’m getting smarter or a smart ass, one of the two. Like you said, Jennifer, the nice thing about getting older, is that you care less about what people think. What a relief!

  5. Also, with age, your writing voice matures, your take on human nature, the grasp of how the present has been influenced from the past, etc, etc. Last night I came to The End of PROMISE NOT TO TELL (Whoa, what a treat), closed the book and reflected on the complexity and depth that the three Deb books have been so far. Neither Mia, Kristy or you, Jennifer, could have written those novels at an earlier age; believe me, I’m reading a much more supeficial tone and perspective from younger debut authors.

    Of course it’s not their fault they lack life experiences, but I’m certainly thrilled that you’re out there to entertain me and relate to now…in my early forties.

  6. Black balloons – I hadn’t heard this one before. I’m in my early 40s and wouldn’t trade it for my 30s for the world. In your 40s you feel as if you’ve arrived. And gals in their 50s say that feeling is even more pronounced then.

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