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.