40’s Not So Hard!

As I write this I’m soon to turn 40 years old (on Oct. 1st to be exact). I think a lot of people begin their forties with a sense of “woe-ism”, you know, “woe is me” and all that silliness. To be quite honest I’m very much looking forward to it. Not only do you know who you are at 40 but you don’t have to waste a lot of time figuring out what direction you’re going in life. You know what you want to do, things are so much clearer than they were when you were in your twenties. It’s just easier.

OK, most of the above is bullshit! Life is no easier when you turn 40 than when you turn 10. Actually if we were to debate the point I’d say that life is a hell of a lot easier at 10. Things just get so much more complicated as you age. The good news is that you’re more capable of dealing with it as you get older. I guess that’s what creates the illusion that it all gets easier.

By most measures I’m a fairly disciplined guy. I work out regularly, I try to stay as organized as I can, I eat right and I generally have a good attitude towards life. But unlike a lot of people I see the value and true potential of self-improvement. It’s kind of like a game to me. Once I achieve something I try to take it to the next level. Exercise for example. I’ve been working out since I was 14 years old. I’m no bodybuilder and would never in a million years want a body like that but I do enjoy resistance training, running and swimming. I’m a fish! When my daughter was born something snapped inside me, figuratively speaking, and I started thinking, I’m going to be 50 when my daughter is 10 and 60 when she’s 20 (I’m a math genius), will I have the energy to keep up with her? I almost immediately began a regiment of running, swimming and resistance training 6 days a week. I was never a big fan of running back then but I could easily do 5km. But then I took five and added another couple of kilometers, then another couple of kilometers, then another and now I’m running a minimum of 12km to a maximum of 18km three times a week. Same thing happened with my swimming and now I swim 7500 meters each week.

Currently I’m on the last few weeks of my Parental Leave from work. Greatest move I ever made in my life. If you have a job that allows you to take Parental Leave take it! You’ll never regret spending the first 6 months of your child’s life at her/his side. Since the beginning of my leave in March I’ve lost 17 pounds and now my goal is to keep it off! When you turn 40 years old it’s almost literally the start of the second half of your life. In essence it’s like starting your life all over again but with one hell of a running start. You have the intelligence and confidence to pull off some pretty amazing things in the second half of your life. That’s the way I see it anyway. Or you can live it full of regrets with all those “oh, why didn’t I do that when I was younger” moments.

I can honestly say that I live a life with no regrets. That’s just me, I don’t let things go unfinished or unresolved. I know what you’re thinking, everyone has at least one regret. I believe it’s possible to live a life with no regrets at all. And if you have any right now, go resolve them. I’m reminded of the Baz Luhrman song “Everybody’s Free”. There’s a line in there that says “…Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t…” I firmly believe this! Don’t stress it. As long as you’re happy in the here and now who the hell cares what you do with your life. But for those who have a direction they wanna go then 40 is a great place to start it! Here are a few changes I’m making in my life when I turn 40, and I’m only mentioning them so it’ll help me stick to them. There’s nothing worse than telling someone your goals and then you fail to achieve them due to laziness! It’s downright embarrassing!

The Goals for Doug’s Life: Part II
(“Part II” meaning the second half of my life… duh!)

TV goes bye-bye. That’s right, I’m turning off the TV for a year (DVD viewing excluded). I find that are are far too many reality TV shows causing global retardation. There are far too few intelligent and thought provoking programs out there. It’s sad what passes for entertainment these days. I really don’t care if Tila Tequila ever finds love.

Hasta la vista Internet. This is only for a month. Starting October 1st (my birthday) I’m cutting out the Internet with the exception of reading and responding to e-mails. I think that the amount of time I spend on the Internet mindlessly surfing cyberspace is detrimental to my “creative time”. I could be putting that time to much better use. I’m a cartoonist for Pete’s sake! I should be drawing cartoons not tweeting my ass off day in day out!

Sianara junk food! I’ve already done this but I will continue this into my 40s and hopefully beyond. The odd trip to Dairy Queen is cool but I used to binge on candy, chocolate, chips, you name it, I ate it! I finally got a hold of my cravings and now that I’ve seen the results of proper diet and exercise, I’ve totally lost interest in junk food.

Getting the most out of my Vita-Mix. My wife and I recently purchased the Ferrari of blenders. This $600 monstrosity in all its 2 horse-powered glory will even blend the seeds of a strawberry into a fine powder. The blades turn so fast that if you leave it on for 5 minutes you’ll have hot soup good to go. Anyhoo, the point here is that I’m putting it to good use by blending/drinking a ton-o-beggies and fruit. I think I drank at least a garden full of vegetables by now.

Get confident, stupid! I’m one of those people who can do anything. Yeah, one of those guys you love to hate. On top of being an exercise fanatic, I’m quite the artist (if I do say so myself), I’m good at a lot of sports, highly skilled in many fields, I play the guitar and piano and although I’m no Susan Boyle people who have heard me sing tell me I’m quite good at it too. In fact I can recall several moments in my life when I was told that I should really pursue my singing. The problem I see is that in some ways I’m afraid of success. I know it sounds ridiculous. I’m confident as hell in other areas but I have a fear of singing in front of people. At least I do when I’m sober. I sometimes feel I should really get out there and record something and post it on the Internet. But I’d actually be afraid that someone would hear it and I’d end up famous or something to that effect. I don’t want to be famous. In fact I have a fear of being famous. I’ve always said that I’d rather be famous by name than by face any time. I don’t like to be the center of attention. I like a little attention now and then, yes, but I like to disappear

into the shadows once in a while. I’m very comfortable in the background. But I guess where I’m going with this is that in order to live a life with no regrets I’m going to have to step up and use my gifts every way I possibly can. People aren’t talented so they can entertain themselves. They’re talented so that they might share their gifts and enlighten and inspire others to do the same. And I certainly don’t want to be one of those people that when he’s 89 says “I wish I had tried that when I was young. Now it’s too late.”

Balance my two careers. Being a cartoonist does not pay the bills at my house. I have a full-time career that I don’t speak about when I’m online. Don’t ask why or what it is just roll with it. I’ll inevitably tell the world one day, probably the day I leave that job, but for now it’s a secret. I love that job. I love everything about it. Everyday is different! I put as much effort into it as I do my art. But I need to focus on what direction I’m going and what do I want my future on that job to hold for me?

Well, I feel better prepared for my 40th birthday now that I got all that off my chest. Looking back on 40 years of life is fascinating to say the least. I’ve done so much in such a relatively short span of time. But I truly feel the best days of my life are ahead of me. I get goosebumps thinking of the possibilities that lay before me!

Bring it on!