I have a distinct memory of a decision I made on my fourth birthday.
I figured that since I was four it was about darn time I jumped off the high diving board at the community college pool where my dad taught swimming lessons in the summer. The earliest photo I have of being in that pool was dated when I was nine months old, so I was no stranger to the water. I don’t remember the climb up the 15-foot ladder, but I do remember plunging with glee like a little bullet into the pool.
That leap was a change. That leap was a commitment. That leap was a risk.
So what change, commitment, or leap can I take now that I’ve turned forty?
I’ve taken a few distinctive leaps since that jump off the diving board: graduate school (twice), changing jobs and careers, buying a home, going back to taekwondo after over twenty years out of the dojang.
In my last post I discussed the attitude my peer group seems to have towards turning forty: it’s an exciting time of renewal and opportunity. We seem more excited about turning forty than celebrating the new year in January. With each fortieth birthday we’re celebrating OUR year.
Maybe new year’s resolutions should happen on our birthdays instead of at the new calendar year. Our birthdays are personalized reminders of the time we’ve spent and the unknown time we have left. I’m not a fan of “resolutions,” but I do like seeking opportunities to develop, grow, and when needed, change.
So what leap am I taking at age forty?
I think instead of a dramatic leap (or “splash” if you would allow me one pun) I’d rather take a step back. Having some extended time off work has helped me see what my true priorities are: pursuing my personal interests, taking care of my home, and spending time with or at least communicating with the people who truly matter to me.
Like many of us I get caught up in wasting too much time on social media, getting too annoyed in city traffic, imagining confrontations that most likely never happen (you know you guys do that too), getting worked up over news stories, and getting caught up in the “sky is falling” mentality of the corporate world.
I’m tired of letting that shit clutter up my headspace.
So my leap isn’t into anything seemingly dramatic–I’m staying in my home, sticking to my new taekwondo school, and for now staying in my very nice job that affords me a very nice life. My leap is a commitment to have a positive outlook, and enjoy and revel in the things, activities, and people I truly enjoy.
When those inevitable negative situations or worries happen, I want to respond (as opposed to reacting) to them swiftly and efficiently, and not dwell on them. I haven’t forgotten my desire to give zero f*cks to things that don’t matter (which are most things), ha ha. If it’s something I did wrong, then I want to give myself some grace and commit to doing better without miring in guilt.
I suppose that’s not too far off from Marie Kondo’s philosophy–if it sparks joy, focus on it and keep it in your life to enjoy. If not…well, f*ck it. Don’t give it a second thought. (That goes for people too).
Maybe today isn’t your birthday, but when that day rolls around, what will your commitment to yourself be?