Wednesday, June 27, 2007

41 is the new...well, what is it?

Tomorrow marks my birthday. I no longer get excited about my birthdays and feel somewhat relieved when the day has passed. This year I will be turning 41 and for some odd reason, numerology popped into my head.

When I think of the number 41 I tend to think of the year 1941. That was, of course, the year of the Pearl Harbor attack but it was also a huge year in baseball history. Joe DiMaggio had his 56 game hitting streak and Ted Williams hit .406 in that year. It is now 66 years beyond 1941 and I was born 41 years ago, in 1966.

41 is the atomic number of niobium, the number 41 is encoded into much of JS Bach’s music and Arthur C. Clarke used the number prominently in the Rama cycle of books. If you are a fan of Kevin Smith’s film Clerks, you’ll understand when I say that I enjoyed turning 37 far more than I am enjoying turning 41.

I’m not so much freaked out about the actual age itself. Middle age isn’t really shaking me up. To be honest I am somewhat surprised and grateful to have not met my demise long ago. My Navy experiences forced me to understand and accept my mortality in my early adult life because there was no other choice. When I left the service at the age of 26 I was under the impression that I was living on borrowed time and I’ve had to readjust my behavior since my physical safety has improved greatly since then.

The only things I really despise about middle age is the effect it has on my body. I am not, and never will be, as limber as I once was. I have to force myself to exercise daily and I can’t seem to break past certain points in that exercise. It’s like I’ve plateaued and can’t increase my stamina or reps of just about every exercise routine I know. I don’t mind the gray hair; except for the gray chest hair, I actually dislike that.

I enjoy the moderate level of wisdom that has accompanied middle age. I am certainly enjoying the look on young men’s faces when I loose patience with them and read them the riot act. Instead of trying to physically posture and assert themselves over me the way they would try to do when I was younger, they now just open their eyes wide and skulk, and I have learned that I can get away with a lot when I dress down someone who deserves it. I think the curmudgeon clothes will fit me well in 20 years.

I also enjoy the fact that a woman in her early 30’s is a younger woman for me. It is a relief to date a “younger woman” and feel at ease since she now is at an age where she actually knows what she is doing. Being the older man now adds a new twist that is interesting as well. So, there are advantages to this middle age business.

If 51 presents itself to me I certainly hope I am able to handle it as well as I think I am handling 41.

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