Dear 40: A letter to a new friend

Dear 40,

For some time now, you’ve been threatening your arrival and it looks like the day is finally here.  In recognition of the event, I’ve decided that you and I should establish some ground rules, some parameters, some expectations and limitations.  While I realize that you define my age from this point forward, I refuse to let you define who I am.

First off, let me say that I am not afraid of you.  I am not afraid of the aching body that is sure to come in the next decade, for I am aware that every ache, every pain, every ailment holds a memory or experience that I will not trade.  Sore knees remind me that I have hiked difficult terrain, from the plains of Africa to the treacherous landscape of the human heart, and have found God’s beauty displayed in more magnificence than words could express.  Each kink in my back reminds me that I have shouldered immensely heavy loads, both physical and emotional, and come out better for it.  Every bladder leak is a glorious reminder that I have brought breathtaking, captivating life into this world in the form of three extraordinary children.  And deteriorating eyesight reassures me that while my outward vision is failing, my inward vision is growing sharper and clearer with every day.  These badges of honor, as annoying and inconvenient as they may be, have been earned and I will display them with humility and gratitude.

Let me also tell you what you can expect from me for the next 10 years.  You can expect change.  I have no intention of staying the same.  At every turn, I will strive to grow and stretch.  I will become stronger, wiser and smarter with every day and every experience.  But let me warn you that during this endeavor you will see me in pain.  You will see me driven to tears.  You will see me resist the transitions.  You will see me fight and fail.  Because even though you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks, the learning often comes with great work and difficulty.  Don’t get me wrong, however.  I will learn the tricks and perform them with unequaled abandon.

You can expect resistance.  While my body ages and is slowly forced to accept your inevitable toll, my spirit will revel in youth and resilience.  Instead of accepting my limitations, I will climb higher, laugh louder and run faster.  I refuse to let you dictate what I can and cannot do.  I will be the one to determine my limits and then I will be the one to surpass those limits.

You will also see me succeed.  You will see me excel in ways you or I never thought possible.  You will witness abilities and passions surface in me with unexpected force and grace.  Certainly there will be setbacks and obstacles, but I will surprise you with untapped potential and perseverance.  You see, your predecessor, 30, has taught me that I am stronger and more persistent than I may appear.  I will embrace this strength and show you exactly what I am made of.

All that said, I am ready for you.  Ready for your challenges and your obstacles.  Ready for your thrilling victories and your new adventures.  Ready to let go of who I’ve been and learn who I am becoming.  Ready to move ahead.  Ready to experience life with confidence, exhilaration, and passion.  I am ready.  I hope you are too.



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