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Surviving Your 40s (nytimes.com)
316 points by dsr12 on May 7, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 186 comments

> I fear I’ve been promoted beyond my competence.

The idea that the Peter Principle[1] happens as you simply grow older and society "promotes" you to a level beyond your competence is a novel one.

The Peter Principle states a promotion to incompetence happens because you are good at your current role and so you're promoted to the new role, but what the author is hinting at is that for some societal functions _it just happens_.

Is it real, or is it another example of imposter syndrome?

My Father has asked me to do some paperwork around a living trust for when the inevitable happens to him and his wife. It has prompted some reflection: I'm unfortunately going to be one of those people who has to make the arrangements for dying parents soon.

I find myself thinking about attics that will need clearing, paperwork that will need organising, distant family that must be contacted, and all at a time that I will want to curl up in a ball.

I question if I can do that competently. I am confident I can be "the guy" others look to in a work-based crisis - a P1 costing us thousands in lost revenue a minute? I can handle that.

But the societal living things that "adults" do that young adults never have to do is a little more onerous.

Can I go back to being a regularly drunk 25 year old please? Take this home contents insurance paperwork and blood pressure medication away, give me some Jaeger-bombs and no memory of getting home, thanks.

Good luck to us all...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_principle

> I find myself thinking about attics that will need > clearing, paperwork that will need organising, distant > family that must be contacted, and all at a time that I > will want to curl up in a ball.

> I question if I can do that competently.

Well. I had that ball thrown to me some three years ago, when my father passed away. Although he was not quite well some time before that I didn't expect that to happen, as the doctors expressed a much positiver outlook.

So it came quite as a (bad and sad) surprise. Having to organise that from some 450 miles afar was hard as well. I was lucky to have a significant other that supported me and researched everything there is to do in the first few days, while I was taking the train back home.

Also I was lucky to have an employer that enabled me to take some days of on such a short notice. Non the less - the process (including selling the home I grew up in) took time. Was stressful and hard at times. But also the returning memories while clearing out my father's home were (as sad as they were) something I am greatful for.

There was one moment I remember as if it just had happened. On Christmas Eve, when the festivities began and my former self got called to sit below the tree and unwrap my presents, the call was made with a small silver bell attached to a small wooden stick. The sound of it totally forgotten in my mind. When we were cleaning out the house my significant other's mum, helping did ring the bell. I instantly got transported back to my childhood by that sound and instantly welled up. It was such a sad moment and at the same time filled with joyful memories.

There were lots of such moments. Sad but cherished non the less. I still miss him dearly every day of my life. Especially when I want to share something I did or achieved. These moments still are hard on me.

I had a very similar situation, almost 4 years ago, with my mom. A scare about a week earlier, with not so great health the year before, but doctors were optimistic, then another scare that led to a phone call of "it's time to put her in hospice care". Had just started a new job too and could start bringing in the bucks to let my mom quit her dead-end job. Fortunately I got some time off and could fly out, ~800 miles for me. I'm still glad one of my uncles is a lawyer, he was able to help me with a checklist of items to take care of and could file certain things for me. My brother (and other extended family) being local out there was also very helpful, and the fact we didn't have any disagreements over what to do with the estate. Somehow with everyone's help I took care of just about everything except the house within a week and I could go back home/to work. About three weeks later I went back to my mom's house, driving this time with my truck, to get a big load of stuff to take back with me. It still took a long time after to sell the house. Definitely put the idea of a remote home owner / landlord out of my head for the foreseeable future...

The guy at the morgue let me know he (and I suppose others in his line of work) will help people through the process of creating a will and so on. I'd parrot his recommendation that people should put their affairs in order long before they expect anything to happen, it just makes everything much smoother, especially if there are any familial disagreements.

As someone approach mid-thirties I just want to thank all of you for your stories. I find myself thinking of these things, but it's still very tentative. They'll probably become reality before I feel I'm ready for it, and all this helps.

I love my dad unconditionally. To this day. One thing he did still is so over the top imho.

He had everything. I mean everything prepared. There was a folder at his work desk at home that had in it: * His Obituary already prepared - I just needed to fill in the date of his passing away. * All noted what I needed to tell the funeral parlor * All noted for the minister (down to every song he wished) * A personal note, that he loves me and will kiss me, when we meet again on the other side (right now even thinking about that makes my eyes water) * All necessary for the bank to transfer ownership/control of his funds * Some other stuff already organized

I just needed to contact the relevant people and already had a playbook of what to do. I was able to get all done and had time to grief.

That does sound a bit over the top, but from what I understand really helpful in the end. I don't think my father would go quite this far, but if he'd read your comment he would probably do likewise.

FWIW I'm still at a point in life where death is just an occasional, fleeting thought, but now I'm thinking that going 'over the top' like your father might be worth doing. If I were to die unexpectedly I'd very much like my family to have access to all my files (I encrypt the shit out of everything), to know things I never told them, and to be able to grieve without having to worry too much about the 'practical' matters. Thanks a ton for your comment (assuming I interpreted it right)!

Well. About 3 years prior my dad had to organise his mothers burial while he was massively grieving.

So remembering that he did not want me to go through the hassle while grieving. So he prepared. And as he always prepared over the top - he had a tendency to be more then perfect in such things. A little OCD. ;-)

Even if he was so not OCD in nearly every other aspect.

So yes - it was over the top. But it was so unbelievable helpful.

[Edit]: > Thanks a ton for your comment (assuming I interpreted it > right)!

Yes you did.

Lost both of my parents within a short timespan and underwent the same process when cleaning out their house. Now I'm sitting here saddened by the thought I may never encounter those memories again.

I keep wondering lately if anyone is actually an "adult", or if everyone is just faking it because that's what society expects... this leading to a vicious circle.

I have an older close friend who, after a college reunion, said to me, “Some people stayed the same age they were when they graduated, some people stopped at 40, some people just kept growing.”

I’m not 100% sure what he meant by that, but I find that every few months the way I see the world almost completely changes. I’m more accepting, calmer, less inclined to get into heated debates over opinions, when people exhibit “crazy” behavior I actually kind of understand where they’re coming from. I hope that’s growth, and I hope that never stops.

But yeah, I’m 32 now, and I’m like damn some people are raising children at this age now. My uncle was in his early 30s when he adopted me and we fought a lot. Now I get it, because at this point in my life I feel like I couldn’t possibly raise a child with wisdom and assertiveness and patience.

Perhaps I can add my interpretation. In college, we did a great deal drinking and went to great lengths to find the coolest bar/pub night club. We graduated, got married, had kids and now spend our time fixing our homes. Most of us drink very little or in my case literally stopped drinking. Every once in a while a friend from college will pop into town and ask me to go drinking/partying/looking for the coolest pub. I always marvel at how some of my friends never changed. They still drink like we in college, which was a good 20 years ago in my case.

While there are many factors that play a role in 'growing up', I do think you make a valuable point in highlighting drinking as a salient factor. Looking at my peers (early- to mid-thirties), drinking habits seem to correlate more than even 'big' things like marrying or having kids.

Some people develop their world-view up until their late teens/early twenties, then they spend the rest of their lives defending that world-view. Others adapt their views as they accumulate more information and experience. This leads to having to "change your mind" though, which can make the former type of person angry. If you keep changing how are they supposed to formulate ways to beat you in arguments?!

Some people at around 40 go "I was such an idiot at 20! now I know exactly what's going on"... without realising that they'll probably look back in another 20 years and think the same (I say this as a 42 year old dunce). I see the fractal parent of this in larger society - always looking back at the past and mocking how foolish people were. Every generation was more stupid than the one that came after it, their theories more ridiculous - right up until us. Finally we have it all worked out. Phew!

That's what they call wisdom, I think )

One theory is psychological adulthood is having individual agency, which babies and children clearly physically cannot have, and at some point as people age into competency they either get it and become adult, fake it and generally do relatively poorly, or never bother obtaining it and do very poorly. (edited to point out the article tip toes around this without ever stating or summarizing this)

For any given task X that needs doing, you can either do it because it needs doing, only do it when tightly supervised, or not bother someone else will take care of it. Where X could be anything, go to the gym, raise children, a job or business, politics, all manner of things.

That's the very base definition. The next step is knowing your limits, where you are competent, where you could be competent, are expected to be and what those things are worth.

No amount of drive alone (which is what you're talking about) will fix it.

Adults in my book are those you automatically/instinctively turn to when life throws you in the deep sea. It's not really about age but what they have gone through in life.

They are the folk who have not just survived the deep sea, but come out the other side with minimum damage. These people exist just like people who have summited mountains exist. You can't fake that shit. And you'll automatically know them when you see them.

Summiting mountains is easy. Adult life is hard.

Indeed, I always found summitting mountains as some kind of a hubris activity. I am like "okay, that's really interesting but that's ONE achievement requiring moderate amounts of effort and one-time investment so don't count me very impressed".

I mean, I am not judging people for doing it. Not at all. It's a good way to get to know oneself better!

Being an adult however is a battle you have every day.

On about the first page of Malraux's Anti-Memoirs he writes of asking a priest what he had learned from hearing all those thousands of confessions. The priest said, a) in general, there are no grownups; b) people are sadder than they appear.

Actually point B only is relevant for people who confess their sins in church... (A self selecting group. It takes a small degree of masochism to practice religion strictly; or some really sin where they want to confess.)

I bet you'd get a similar answer from psychologists mostly because well adjusted people tend to not visit them.

Add a smidgen of bias in remembering and setting affecting the confessions, here's your full picture.

I bet you'd get a similar answer from psychologists mostly because well adjusted people tend to not visit them.

You're also making a selection bias, assuming people that see a psychologist are not well adjusted. It's equally possible that only well adjusted people seek psychological consult, while others are sublimating their problems.

I don't necessarily agree with that conclusion either, but I think it's worth pointing out. Especially when discussing emotional maturity.

I wonder the same. Related to this, I also often wonder if there is such a thing as a completely "sane" person. Pick anyone you know well, think of their peculiar habits and sayings, and reflect on whether a "sane" person would be like that.

Sounds like the mental health version of:

> If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.

We're all imperfect beings.

> I keep wondering lately if anyone is actually an "adult", > or if everyone is just faking it [...].

The older I get (am 40 now) the more I tend to believe in the "faking it" part.

There is. When you witness and are the victim of profound bullshit, betrayal, and evil, it changes you. That can happen when you're "young", but it usually takes a while to accumulate.

(Too soon?)

I definitely resonate w/ your post and feel the same way but in a different way.

I'm 22 and I feel like it's really tuff. Tuff because of: Cultural pressure, worldly illusions that lead to false thinking, living in a productivity-oriented time where inner cultivation and inner peace are overlooked, realizing that inherently there might be no meaning to anything whatsoever and trying to live with that and think through that, etc. But even with that, I think all is well but it's a bit tuff.

> living in a productivity-oriented time where inner cultivation and inner peace are overlooked

Depressingly correct. You are very intelligent to have realized this at 22 and please, never forget it. We live in times where you have to actively make space and time for your inner cogwheels to run in peace. Without that, you will be depressed and stressed out your entire life.

I don't want to put a tinfoil hat but from the outside it kind of looks like we are all treated as worker bees with zero desires and needs for leisure time.

Do you mean "tough"?

Yeah! That’s what I meant.

Growing old is painful, I agree. Some things get better though. I feel my wiser than younger colleagues and enjoy that people come asking me for advice so I can give back.

BTW: having Jäger-bombs from time to time (rarely!) is a very good way to keeping you young! ;)

Given that Jägermeister is something that, in Germany, old and staid people drink to aid their digestion after a meal, it never ceases to crack me up that Americans a) pour it in their beer, and b) think that's a sign of youthfulness :)

But there's no accounting for taste. We have liverwurst in Germany, after all ;)

a Jägerbomb is not Jägermeister poured into beer, but poured into redbull.

Not defending it, just pointing it out :)

I thought it's where you drop the shot glass with Jägermeister entirely into a mug of beer (hence the name).

You should go out more often ;-) young people drink it nowadays a lot, too. They had a massive success with their rejuvenation campaign some years ago, also in Germany!

but it isn't considered a sign of youth; it just happens to be a "palatable" shot that's available for cheap which is why people reminisce the drink because it was one of the more affordable shooters that you'd pound back with a beer. Mixing gets you drunk, and crafting the drink pair requires no bartending skill.

TL;DR the ROI in terms of drunkenness is what makes people gravitate towards it in their youth, and that's IMHO the context of the nostalgia.

My growing old was getting painful, until I went to the doctor and learned I had a vitamin B12 deficiency... :-/

Three months of monthly B12 injections later and I feel five years younger!

Summary: get checked-up every now & then, or if you experience any sudden change in your health.

Though I cannot speak from experience, I recall reading similar reflections by G.C. Rota in his marvelous Indiscrete Thoughts (p. 203):

My late friend Stan Ulam used to remark that his life was sharply divided into two halves. In the first half, he was always the youngest person in the group; in the second half, he was always the oldest. There was no transitional period.

I realize how right he was. The etiquette of old age does not seem to have been written up, and we have to learn it the hard way. It depends on a basic realization, which takes time to adjust to. You must realize that, after reaching a certain age, you are no longer viewed as a person. You become an institution, and you are treated in the way institutions are treated. You are expected to behave like a piece of period furniture, an architectural landmark, or an incunabulum.

It matters little whether you keep publishing or not. If your papers are no good, they will say, "What did you expect? He is a fixture!" and if an occasional paper of yours is found to be interesting, they will say, "What did you expect? He has been working at this all his life!" The only sensible response is to enjoy playing your newly-found role as an institution.

It is only because we let others dehumanize is this way. In fact we do that all the time by setting up institutions with built in hidden ageism. Both ways.

We set up stereotypes and expectations which while generally accurate (when tuned, and they take a long time to tune), are not accurate in particular.

People mature at very different rates after all.

The main sociobiological difference over time is conservatism and reflex, which are not set in stone either.

then publish under a pseudonym?

“You don’t quit skating cause you get old, you get old because you quit skating.”

— Skateboarder Jay Adams, 1961-2014

I am nearing 40 and recently took up skateboarding.

Naturally before I did so I searched for, “Am I too old to start skateboarding?”, fully expecting the result to be “yes!” and wondering whether or not I would let that stop me. I came across this profile of Neal Unger, a (now) 60+ year-old man who took up skateboarding in his late 50s:


YouTube is full of videos of skaters in their 60s, 70s, and 80s, and it encouraged me to give it a shot.

It's been interesting to experience the reaction from friends, family, and strangers when I told them I skate, or when I skate in groups of younger people (they are almost always younger, unless they're the folks running the skate shop/park).

My conclusion is the same as Pamela Druckerman's in her piece here: grown-ups don't exist. Your body will age, you will be more conscious of your mortality, society will judge you or ignore you, and that transition can be really tough.

But you can flip the “age out of wunderkind” feeling she mentions — you can use the “don't care what you think” attitude that often accompanies getting older to question the status quo and do the things you want to do anyway. As you age you can become remarkable not just for the things you have done but for the things you decide to continue doing — or the things you decide to start doing. Suppressing your ambition and confining yourself to a subset of the activities that were once available to you because you feel older or because “old people don't X” feels like a sad way to live.

I'm almost 40 and I've been snowboarding and skateboarding off and on for most of my life. Recently it's been all snowboarding which I love and will never stop doing.

A few years ago I started skateboarding again to keep in shape for snowboarding in the summer. I'm writing this from bed as I'm recovering from an ACL replacement due to a fall I took skateboarding at that time.

I agree with the "do what you want to" sentiment but sports like skateboarding are a matter of when you'll get injured, not if. And those injuries have an impact on other things you might want to do. So be careful.

This is why us 40 somethings all take up road cycling. Less stress on the body but the gear and exhilaration is still there. MTB is still very tempting but the falls are more frequent.

I think the frequency of falling in mountain biking is relative to how often you go out and push yourself to get better. You could just ride easy trails, don’t try to set record speeds on the downhills, and your chances of crashing are pretty slim (disclaimer: I’ve been riding flats for 20 years, so it has always been easy for me to put my foot down when things get squirrelly!) Road biking on the other hand, gives you significantly less control over what takes you down. Often it’s a car, not your own fault.

> MTB is still very tempting but the falls are more frequent.

Falls aren't any more frequent riding XC than on a road bike. I'm about to turn 40 and I much prefer the flow of good singletrack over tarmac any day.

They're definitely more frequent on mtb but when you crash on the road you really know about it.

I see the appeal of road cycling and I investigated it (I'm in a bike-friendly city that hosts road cycling events) but feel put off by:

- Sharing roads with fast heavy vehicles at speed.

- Lycra.

- The expense. A good road bike seems to cost ~10× more than a great skateboard or longboard (but about the same as an electric longboard).

- Friends who've had big crashes on the road; intuitively it feels like it should be safer than mountain biking, but I'm not so sure.

> Sharing roads with fast heavy vehicles at speed.

Carefully plot your routes.

> Lycra.

No need for that bs, a t-shirt, jeans and good shoes are all you need.

> The expense. A good road bike seems to cost ~10× more than a great skateboard or longboard (but about the same as an electric longboard).

You can buy great used bikes for relatively little money. I just bought a top of the line roadbike that's a bit older for $200 which I used regularly, another for $150, which I converted into a hometrainer:


Don't fret about the quality of the bike, until you reach competition level it is totally unimportant. I regularly pass people on much better bikes with all the goodies and just yesterday I in turn was passed by someone in at least their sixties on a bike that was much older than mine and I wouldn't have been able to catch him no matter how hard I tried. The bike rarely matters.

> Friends who've had big crashes on the road; intuitively it feels like it should be safer than mountain biking, but I'm not so sure.

I've crashed pretty hard about 2 years ago. It was my own fault, riding a recumbent on a regular road. Still, I got lucky, broke my leg badly but nothing else.

You probably already know this, but if you're road cycling any distance at all, lycra is your friend. When you cross 85-100mi, the quality of your clothing makes all the difference in the world.

The vast majority of the people I see riding on Saturdays and Sundays on their $4K bikes dressed out like they're leading the charge for the Tour de France tend to do distances where there really is no difference in what you wear. My own trips max out at about 100k / day and I'm far more worried about sunburn, flats, insect swarms or getting caught in bad weather than I am about skin abrasion, absorption or cooling.

If you do go for competition cycling then maybe it is worth it to you to spend the extra $ but for the most part it seems to me that people just love to have an excuse to spend their $ to look like they are professional athletes.

Their bellies usually tell a different story, but fortunately for them lycra seems to stretch really well ;)

You ride 100KM in jeans without chafing?

Yes, absolutely no problem. Did it this Sunday, and many others besides.

The only time I've had chafing issues was when doing a circle around the 'IJsselmeer' in one day. That was bad. But I was also peeing green and out for the count for the next day so enough time to heal up :)

Learn from MTB riders - padded lycra pants and some shorts on top :) Doesn't look completely ridiculous and still comfortable after 3h.

I'm a pot-bellied Fred who wears full spandex and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I applaud you, I just don't like it, so I'll compromise - I'm only judging my own looks :)

I don't doubt that it looks ridiculous, merely because the opinion is so widely held and expressed, but function dictates form in this instance.

Well, you've got my vote. I merely wanted to point out that an expensive outfit is not a requirement to starting out cycling and that you can do some pretty good rides without. If it works for you then that's great, and I'm happy to see you cycling, whatever you're wearing. The activity is what matters. If you ever make it to my neck of the woods consider yourself invited for a trip.

Who said anything about jeans? Try the Nike store.

To be fair a half decent set of cycle shorts will be lycra and have a padded crotch. You can get quite sweaty on a longs, so the lycra reduces chaffing and the padding just makes things more comfortable. I usually wear something over the top as its not a good look on guys in my opinion, but they are pretty practical.

Thank you for this — you've made me think again, and I enjoyed your blog post.

Just need to find somewhere to store a road bike along with the skis, skateboards, snowboards, and mountain bikes now…

An easy fix for the storage problem is to hoist them up against the garage ceiling or to hang them on a wall. If you're really space constrained you can always drop out the wheels and store those separately, that only takes a few seconds. Make sure you tighten the clamps well after putting the wheels in, that will take some trial and error in the beginning.

Another thing, if you're shopping for bikes is to check for new-old-stock, sometimes you can get crazy discounts on bikes that are only one or two years old thanks to the 'fashionista's' who wouldn't be caught dead on a bike that isn't of the latest model year and in the latest colors.

I hike many rail-to-trail conversions on asphalt, sometimes gravel, thru the mountains, sharing the paved trail with roughly equal numbers of bikers. That solves many of your problems, while creating others. It would be financially advisable to research fees if any as tickets can be expensive. If you like bicycling in groups/crowds you enter the trail in a urban area, if you want to experience empty trails enter the trail from a rural farm county park.

I don't road bike but AFAIK the cheapest way to have a bike that weighs one pound less isn't hyper-expensive materials but diet based weight loss about a month ago. In the spirit of the old weight lifting joke, or maybe wisdom, that illegal steroid use might make you look like you have an extra year's lifting experience while causing significant medical problems, and in that context the medically safest replacement for illegal steroid use that gets you to the same place without any medical danger is simply to start lifting one year earlier, and a lot of money is made in the market convincing people that patience is not an alternative.

THIS. There has been an explosion in rail trails development over the last decade or so. Check out https://www.railstotrails.org for help finding one. Also, pick up a gravel or touring bike from a company like surly or salsa, and it becomes less about the weight of your bike and more about where you can go...

Mountain biking is wayyy safer. You're way more likely to get bruises and bumps, but much less likely to get put in the hospital for a month (or worse).

You don't need to become a MAMIL or even buy expensive gear to road ride. I cycle on a $250 mountain bike in running shorts and a singlet. I'll wear jeans and a jumper if it's cold. Crashes are a reality, the same as driving a car. I've never had a crash with another road user, sometimes people don't see me but they don't see me in my car or motorbike either. You can ride with lights and hi-vis gear if you feel the need to.

Pothole crashes happen; it's easy to get mental hypnosis out there on the long rides. Route selection and choosing a low traffic time of day is your best defense against cars, but some drivers are just bad drivers. There's no dodging that risk, but it helps if you're willing to drive out of your way to find empty, nice routes.

Noted, thanks, and I'll take care. (My sister took up skateboarding and broke her arm the next week, so I'm aware of the risks. The fun is still worth it for me at the moment.)

Not using your body into old age also carries risks, of course, but I accept there are safer ways of staying active than skateboarding. (Am also a skier and snowboarder, so doing it for much the same reasons as you. Hope you heal up ok!)

I've been skateboarding vert ramps most of my life (our ramp is pictured at the top of my site https://vertramp.org/). To avoid getting seriously hurt, (1) religiously wear pads (even wrists guards) and a helmet if you skate bowls or ramps, and (2) don't push yourself too hard beyond your current level. Pushing hard can result in learning more quickly, but it's also a good way to end up hurt, which has serious consequences at our age (I'm 44). I skate all the time with other vert skaters around my age; there's a ton of us (since vert was huge in the 1980s), and it is a very welcoming community. It seems like each year I do deal with one nontrivial injury - for 2017 it was that my knees just started to ache a LOT from my knee pads getting yanked when knee sliding on birch, which was the surface of our ramp before we put skatelite on it. In any case, you have to watch out both for traumatic injuries (where pads help) and more subtle injuries from longterm stress to your body. Skateboarding in your 40s is definitely very doable, especially if you optimize for having fun and getting exercise more than trying to be Bucky Lasek, who is older than both of us and a top pro.

Skateboarding is dangerous, but at least on a ramp or bowl, there aren't cars that can kill you in an instant, and (unlike surfing or snowboarding) where you are riding is mostly predictable and under control.

Thanks for the advice! I'm not skating vert yet (mostly street and cruising) but I'm very much tempted by it as there are a couple of good parks nearby. I'll be sure to pad up and stay within my limits.

And, yes, no illusions about becoming Bucky Lasek (45) or Tony Hawk (49); I started way too late to go pro and have other things I'm good at. It's about fun, fitness, friends, and cutting down journey times on foot for me.

Yes, exactly that and the reason I turned to the guitar after turning 50. I'm hoping it will help to keep my heart young, without the added physical risks!

I'm in the same situation - skateboarded from my mid-teens to my early thirties, twenty years give or take, then moved to the Swiss Alps so took up snowboarding. I don't skate anymore, so spend the summer doing short bike rides to keep fit for the winter season.

And I agree, know many skateboarders my age who have had knee ops. So far I've been OK, but I know it's only a matter of time.

Were your friends wearing knee protectors? And if not, were the knee injuries the sort that would have been prevented (or lessened) by knee protectors?

Yes. And,

When I was younger, I would over-train, recover quickly, repeat (I run, weight train, cycle).

Now, I don't heal so fast. Instead, I try to maximize my strength and fitness while simultaneously minimizing injuries.

At this age, I look at it as a fun constrained optimization problem. So, the added intellectual challenge, required to be physically active while aging, I quite enjoy.

Best wishes to heal soon and be back on the board!

>And those injuries have an impact on other things you might want to do.

what are those other things? i hope i don't get injured so i can keep playing sports - not dancing or walking around paris or etc. seems circular

Started bouldering at age 48. Stronger than I've ever been in my life, and in better shape generally since my mid-20's

I started longboarding to work in my late 20s. My coworkers laughed at me and called me a hippy. I guess it was because I broke the status quo in their minds. Their expectation was that I should start maturing and settle into the same 9-5 box they were in. The older I get, the more I run into people thinking I'm a wacky hippy for the lifestyle choices I make. There's so much social pressure to conform but, ironically, conformity is a much lonelier option in my experience than being willing to stand out as weird. The phrase "your vibes attract your tribe" is really true, but it sometimes takes time. Over time I've found people my age (and of all ages) that accept my weirdness. I think the main reason people have trouble finding friends over 30 is because they spend more effort trying to fit into the boxes society wants to put them in than they do looking for the society that accepts them as they are.

Love the observation that lifestyle choices once construed by friends as evidence of a mid-life crisis are eventually accepted as just part of who you are — that has largely been my experience too.

It also helps to see others normalising skating as a commuting form — I'd guess 1/3 of Casey Neistat's videos feature skateboards, longboards, and their electric variants. (He is 37.)

I was tempted by longboarding, but bought the skateboard because they're easier to trick, carry, and stash. I can see myself buying a longboard eventually too, though…

Longboards are great for long distance commutes. Much more efficient and comfortable over long distances than traditional skateboards. And if you can find a place for downhill boarding, its an exhilarating hobby!

Only somewhat related: a video of Edmund Bacon, creator of LOVE park, at 92 years old, protesting the ban on skating in the park by skating himself:


yeah, the replacement is not only not good for skaters, it's not good for anybody.


Those closing words are so uplifting. Thank you for sharing this.

Funny you mention this. I skated in HS and college and while I have always owned a skateboard, I tend to go longer and longer between sessions as a 40-something. For me it's the decline in my explosiveness, some weight gain, and now chronic injuries that hold me back. I mean, if I throw myself off of 10 stairs today, I expect to be hospitalized. I have priorities in my life that don't allow me to sacrifice my physical wellbeing with the insouciance that I used to.

So I wonder if starting in your 40s is better because you never knew what your body was capable of in your teens and early 20s, so that depression doesn't kick in.

I took up mountain biking more seriously two years ago when I was 44. I wondered about the same question you did last year and found similar answers. You're never too old.

I'm 44 now and I enjoy cycling in the nature more and more, I wish I had started earlier in my life. I am a kind of late developer, something that made me awkward in the past but makes me happy now. Despite of what the article says, I don't think I'm approaching the peak in earnings (that's because I don't think I get as much as I could, not because I'm particularly greedy). It's true that your mindset changes when you get 40. You get a bit less concerned about the present yet you live more in it, quite a pleasant status.

Though I find there's some truth in the article, the author is generalizing a very private experience, something that I find a bit irritating. It bases on how other people see her (madame instead of mademoiselle), while it's clear that it all depends on you. I don't like the mild sense of ending that pervades the article.

I have a friend that started at 44 and started dirt jumping at 48. He did his first no footers at 50! Now that I’m well into my 40s, it gives me hope that I can still progress.

How did you start? The usual, climbing on it and falling off?

I turned 40 this year. It is definitely a time you start thinking about your past and the future ahead of you. I think about health problems you can develop, like bad back, bad knees, obesity etc. My dad was very slim and fit in his 30s, but I remember how fat he got in his 40s and how he later developed diabetes because of it.

I also really miss the excitement and novelty I felt about things when I was younger. I look at my kids, how the smallest things are so fun and exciting for them. Now so much just feel like so much like "been there, done that". If If watch a movie, it all feels so predictable. If I travel, there doesn't seem like anything ever seems fresh or new anymore.

Perhaps because the world has become more similar. You can buy the same stuff anywhere in the world and the same chain stores are all over the world.

It also feels like I haven't quite followed up with expectations. When I visit the homes of parents of my kids playmates, their houses look so proper and serious. I feel I can't have people on visit because I still got half assembled 3D printers and robots in the living room. I feel like somebody who doesn't really want to grow up, but everybody is pushing me in that direction, even myself in the sense that I can't feel the same geek appreciating for technology. Technology feels less and less exciting and more like tools with a purpose. They have no intrinsic value as novelties or coolness.

Strangely I seem to care way more about people than technology. Do other ex-geeks/present geeks feel this way? Like tech stuff just isn't as interesting anymore. You get more interested in people? I think it is more fun to teach technology or write about it now, than actually doing it.

Yes, health starts creeping in - it's inevitable. (I'll be reaching 50 in a year, so I've done that 40's gig almost up to the next promotion ;)

But excitement and novelty? Every day. You get more discerning in what you do, but there's plenty of interesting stuff. And yes, people are more interesting than tech - they're slightly less predictable.

You might want to question why you litter your living room with it if it doesn't feel interesting, though.

FWIW, for me the 40s were about defining who I really am. It's taken a lot of work, but it's given me so much freedom. I know who I am. I don't need to prove myself anymore. I don't need to do things because other people tell me I'll like them. I can make decisions knowing they rest within my values, not pushed by external sources.

It sounds like you're starting to look at that question, too. I'd recommend doing it with professional guidance (therapist/life coach/priest/whathaveyou), it's easier that way.

I’m in my early 30s and watching how my friends are “progressing” on the novelty curve is interesting, especially as it comes to tech and pastimes. We were all big gamers for a long while, and while I’m much more interested in people they still churn through the games. I kind of wonder if there is a natural point of when it all starts to feel the same, or whether it’s really possible to get be that sense of novelty forever. I guess people can be film buffs all their lives!

I'm soon turning 30. I still like games but I can't do the treadmill of new releases anymore; the games I have interest in playing are much fewer and focused in fewer genres. Increasingly I gravitate toward skill-based arcade-style games and competitive games and away from anything with a story and console-style progression.

I am close to 40, and hang out with lots of people older than myself.

Health concerns are greater, most of us have at least one new-ish permanent/cyclical ailment.

The only way I feel like I can recapture youthful novelty is some kind of drug (beer, legal cannabis, psychiatric meds, etc), or certain kinds of physical/mental exertion.

Agree hugely that technology is less exciting and more simply tools, each with lots of complex tradeoffs. An interesting project is only about the tools until you can (as quickly as possible) stop thinking about them to focus only on the project. Projects are life.

People are the best projects, because they become 'new project spawn points' (and also for other reasons, heh). When you meet someone who is willing to continually work with you in exploring balanced mutual space to amuse and learn from/with each other, it's golden. Then you can take those skills back to refresh older relationships. We help each other grow, improve, recover and/or adapt, and when the shit hits the fan, nothing else matters more. Everything we love most in life requires other people in some way, they are the source of our core energy, our best protection and more.

> Strangely I seem to care way more about people than technology. Do other ex-geeks/present geeks feel this way? Like tech stuff just isn't as interesting anymore. You get more interested in people? I think it is more fun to teach technology or write about it now, than actually doing it.

Yes! I think there is so little that is truly new, at some point you've "seen it all". It just gets relabled / repackaged over and over again. And the fact that most tech work is ultimately for some boring business goal. Real life and the people in it are way more interesting.

> (Irritatingly, men are “monsieur” forever.)

Well, they might be called "monsieur" in a French Cafe, but it is in the relation with youger ones that the difference arrives, even for men.

The tone used changes, so being a man and being called a "sir" with a different tone, followed by a different look , also makes you remind that you're over 40. Or when younger ones offer to help you (!) with a mobile (!!) or even how to open a door with one of those "security" mechanisms, like contact card or something like that (just because you tried to tap someplace and the sensor, actually, was 2 inches further to the left).

Those small punches of realitty, remembering that some people see you as some "old man" can be disturbing.

>> (Irritatingly, men are “monsieur” forever.)

Yeah, this isn't true. Young men are called "jeune homme" in cafés and such.

And then when you get older there comes a time when you're called "jeune homme" again, in a weird sarcastic-but-kind way. You will hear very old men be called "jeune homme" all the time, and then everyone laughs. Apparently it's a joke that never gets old.

(Source: am French).

People in the US love making essentially the same crack about "young men" and "young ladies."

Oh yeah, "jeune homme". I got that one too. It usually came from people in their late 30s or more and always felt condescending.

And I've heard it said to older people like you did.

I actually have the opposite reaction. I'm 31, in Portugal, and I get mildly annoyed when people call me "jovem" rather than "senhor". And I get super annoyed when they use "tu" (happens mostly in bars).

It's also spoken slower when you reach you 40s (I'm also French). A young man might be called Monsieur but it's said really quickly like there is no reverence.

(I'm french)

I actually don't think I've been called "monsieur" at cafes in my 20s. That came later.

Much more so in a less egalitarian language such as Polish (or German, I imagine?), where the distinction between informal "you" and "sir" (or "pan") is a bigger deal than in English.

100% agree (as a German). Being called the more formal "Sie" is sort-of standard when a stranger asks me for directions in the street - but being called Sie at work would be a huge turn-off. It immediately projects the statement "and please wear a tie during work hours".

I'm well past 40. And it comes with certain advantages. I no longer worry about what other people think about things I like.

I like disco music, a lot. I also like easy listening music from the 1960's, a lot.

Football is incredibly boring.

So there :-)

I like metal and football is incredibly boring. Also; life was never easier than it has been over 40.

I am in my 40s, love metal and football is also boring. Is there a pattern here considering the audience of HN?

I have seen a trend in people in CS/math who love prog and related types of metal. More so than other disciplines.

Another lover of metal, who only follows European football. Still in my 20s though.

Yes they do (at least in my environment) and it's extremely annoying :P

Me being more of a Floyd/soul/electronica aficionado.

Prog metal and death metal are my favourites. It is true, growing up in the 80s it would be inevitable but a lot of my school friends were listening to pop music. I think there is definitely a pattern with CS and metal. Not sure why.

> I am in my 40s, love metal and football is also boring. Is there a pattern here considering the audience of HN?

Some of these replies are overthinking it a bit.

If you're in your 40's then you were a child of the 1980's. A time period where metal (in its various flavors) was the dominant form of young white music for those escaping country or Top-40. It was also the period of time in which the Super Bowl emerged as a true cultural phenomenon in the U.S., and the NFL began surpassing baseball in television ratings.

Check the advertising stats, NFL and pro sports in general is very boomer, and ageism in SV and tech in general means relatively little overlap can be expected between NFL fans and trendy programmers. Only 9% of the NFL audience is under 18, and the average is in the 50s.

Its going to be interesting both financially and culturally. For several decades football viewership average age has gone up about 6 months per 12 calendar months. NASCAR has it worse, they essentially have no youth viewers and no new viewers and their average age goes up almost exactly one year per calendar year. A lot of money and real estate is going to change hands when pro sportsball viewers literally die off. For various public financial reasons ESPN is already not long for this world, for example.

I hate metal and like watching football. But I'm on the cusp of turning thirty. Perhaps you need to do a larger survey where you also collect ages.

Hmm. 44, love metal, enjoy football. Still kind of pissed the Chargers left San Diego, even though I live in the bay area now.

(Also, even though I've been here for a long time, freeways are called the. As in I take the 101 north to San Jose. But that is a wholly separate argument. :D)

I'm 33, love metal and what is that football thing you're talking about? Oh, we have something similar here in Europe, but I don't follow that either.

Do I have to grow 40 to realize that life is unfair and finite, happiness is a choice and that I may, in fact, have my own opinion?

Are you the person you were at 22?

Full metal-head in his 30s here, gotta admit I am a much different person and much happier now than when I was 22, sometimes I would like to go back in time and punch my younger self. The body is failing already, but the spirit is getting stronger.

I'm also happier at this stage of my life (turning 30 this year) than in the past, but I have to wonder how much is my personality and how much is circumstance. I'm married, we have our own place to live, I have a relatively successful career, I have friends, and I can pursue my hobbies more or less freely. Those things weren't all true for me at 22.

I'm with you. They will always be the 'San Diego Chargers' to me

Turning 40 in a year.

I love metal and going to symphonies and I really loved the SF symphony and Metallica.

I also love football, hockey, and F1, but I'm a very competitive guy and just love competition in general, like the Olympics etc. As I grew older I like these sports more as I discovered the coaching and game playing side of things. Seeing a team outplay a physically more talented team is gratifying or watching Ferarri/Redbull/anyone beat the superior silver arrows. The underdog stories are delightful to watch when they happen.

Doing rec sports, board games, video games, poker, laying down more mulch when helping a friend, growing better flowers, code golf, and obviously trying to build a better product than our competitors in software. If something can be measured or has a "finish line" I want to "win" it. When I am "defeated" I want to better myself for the next time.

I enjoy watching sports the same way I enjoy every tech talk by the almighty Carmack. Seeing someone at the top of their game has appeal to me

Do you mean Football or that sport where armoured people play with Rugby ball? Anyway, both are boring :)

Oooh, you mean hand-egg?

Pretty much all organized sports.

This seemed more, "I'm in my 40s and will write a few contemplative existential paragraphs about it" rather than any sort of how-to guide.

I am reminded again that NYTimes editors are not above resorting to exploiting clickbait headlines.

I took as the point of the article


You arrive, disoriented, at "real adulthood" and realize you don't have THE answers, and also that no one else does either

Nah, there are lots of answers. Whether they're correct or not, that's up for debate.

By your 40s most people are set in stone in their ways. I'm sure I'm no different even though I try to be as flexible as I was in my 20s. Easier said than done though.

There is plenty, possibly even too much self help material out there.

I thought it was a well written piece worth reading.

Advertised deceptively so as to engineer maximum clicks, something which I have no respect for, especially from an organization I used to hold in such high regard.

Decreasing regard for the news media; another facet of getting older.

True, but at least the piece is quite insightful

"Sure, they lied to me, but I enjoyed the content" is not what I want from The New York Times. It harms their reputation to engage in those kinds of manipulation tactics.

I am becoming less and less likely to click through to any of their content since I don't like being lied to by anyone on the Internet, especially a news organization.

Eh, I know we're used to the "10 great ways to self-improve" genre these days, but I would still grant some artistic license to freeform essays and the like ;)

"Shooting An Elephant" (by Orwell) is, too, very disappointing if approached as a how-to guide

Same thought here. It felt like this article was without any substance whatsoever.

It reminded me of the kind of writing I would read from friends on LiveJournal.

I'm 47. I don't worry about age that much, but I recently had a fitness checkup at a gym. I'm no great athlete but I do run and cycle a bit. I mentioned I was training for a marathon.

The instructor, in her 30s, encouragingly exclaimed "ooh, you're doing very well for someone nearly in their 50s"

I'd never felt so old in my life :(

Don't worry about that, they're just more used to see people that ruined their bodies.

Just wait until people start opening doors for you next year.

I’m the strongest I’ve been since 25 and every time I go to the pet store they ask if I need help getting the 40lb bag of cat litter to the car.


When I’m feeling salty I will buy two bags or a 20lbs bag of food just so I can throw 60-80 lbs in my shoulder and strut out of the store.

> What we lack in processing power we make up for in maturity, insight and experience.

> ... But what unsettles me most about the 40s is the implication that I’m now a grown-up myself. I fear I’ve been promoted beyond my competence.

I struggled with this in my last software development position. Most of the developers I worked with were in their 20s. They just assumed because of my age, I was a 'senior' developer / all knowing and capable of coding circles around everyone.

But I'm only an average developer, as I get older I learn & gain wisdom but don't feel automatically more productive writing lines of code. Maybe I make less mistakes so that translates to productivity. Yet, I struggle with the software written by younger and probably smarter people - less experienced - but who managed with great intellect to get garbage working our of sheer willpower + brute force.

> but who managed with great intellect to get garbage working our of sheer willpower + brute force.

If you're older and wiser, you can outperform less experienced people by careful consideration of what you should do and how best to do it. Brains over brawn.

There's an upper limit on that.

Moreover, the assumption that the wisdom of age can outperform the speed of youth is simplistic and as much based on cultural tropes as empirically fact.

True valuable read is always in the comments.

You just described the software industry.

I keep reading that people become aware of their own mortality in their 40s. Is this a common experience? I've been acutely aware, and terrified, of it since I can remember. If anything, I find that I have better emotional tools to manage this awareness now in my 40s than ever before.

It was for me. I buried several dear and close family members.

Oddly enough, this is an advantage in life that combat soldiers have that most modern people don't. Once you get to know and like somebody and they die -- right in front of you -- it changes you. Do that a dozen times and you realize that nobody's getting out of here alive. It's just a matter of when you punch your ticket.

I don't fear death like I used to. I think about what having a "good death" means: how I want to experience my last days. I also find that reminding myself of my imminent death is a good way to stay focused on my mission.

Put differently, when I was younger all I thought about was myself. Now that I'm older and have watched people come and go, I realized that for all intents and purposes, I never existed. I'm just here an extremely brief moment to hang out and see some stuff. To the universe, I'm like a gnat. (I half-joke with my friends and tell them I'm an anti-solipsist. It's more true than joke)

Combine that with the second great truth about life, dying is one of the most natural processes there is. Everything dies. No matter who can think of, they've either already died or are about to die. It is no more unusual than breathing. Or sleeping. From the outside, it looks like some people do it well and some poorly.

These two things are not depressing as long as I keep my focus outside myself. What have I decided my mission in life is? How's that mission going? Who am I helping? How can I help them better today? You stop looking at yourself and start looking out in the distance, the rest of this stuff is motivational, not depressing.

ADD: One of the implications of this line of thinking is that people in pre-industrial societies, where there were large families, lots of exposure to death growing up, and perhaps a more solid external value system instilled in childhood? They may have had a much better opportunity at a happier life early on than we do.

> people in pre-industrial societies, where there were large families, lots of exposure to death growing up,

Considering how much time and energy was devoted to ideological systems centered on denying the finality of death, I have a feeling they didn't have any healthier an attitude towards it than we do.

Though, having dealt with a number of dying patients and their families, it would be great if people in the US could at least get past the denial stage and accept that dying is a real thing. It's not giving up, it's not failure, it's not whatever; it's the way we all end up.

Hey Daniel, you've really hit the mark. I'm glad there are people out there like you. Rock on, man!

I was like that and thought that too. What I discovered now that I am in my 40s, is that my own mortality is not the problem (yet anyway). Age has taken some of its toll, but not enough to be able to really imagine old age. Like too many people I wrote about turning 40: http://markos.gaivo.net/articles/40.html

It's mortality and fragility of closed ones that I have difficulty dealing with. An unexpected death last year really made me aware how relatively few times I am likely to still see my mother on our current 2-3 weeks schedule. Even optimistic hopes put this number in only few hundreds.

In general you become aware of mortality when you see loved ones (not just family) loosing the health, some dying, and you realize that your age isn't that much different. Something that used to be "they are 3 times my age" suddenly becomes "just 15 years older"

For me it was the acceptance that death is closer than I would like to think (i.e. It can happen easily and quickly without any kind of accident and the chances of it happening before I live as much as I've already lived are pretty high) that kicked in, not the realization it's inevitable.

Mortality not so much yet, I've not had anyone close to me die besides grandparents and pets; finances and retirement are however very much a thing now, like, I bought a house, have gotten some raises and such over the years and am living quite comfortably atm, and I'm now wondering how to best spend my money (I should probably pay off the house with any extras I have).

At 38 and just starting to try kick off a consulting career and/or acquire more specialized skills so I am in demand forever, my first priority will exactly be to pay off mortgage earlier -- I haven't even started (don't ask, I was very stupid with money and only started paying attention at 37).

(I am a programmer btw.)

Investing in not giving a shit one day even if you don't want to work for 2 years straight is in my eyes something I can't put a price tag on -- it's invaluable!

That being said, nowadays I always have money on the side -- either to have work pauses (like right now exactly) or be able to go on impulsive vacations with my woman.

Yeah. Chances are your parents were between 20 and 35 when they had you. So when you're 45, your parents are between 65 and 80. You see lots of obits of famous people who passed in that range.

Also you start to hear about people in your own generation who passed early. Distant, if you’re lucky, but close enough that you will hear about it.

And your kids will make you feel old each morning at 5am.

> But the number 40 still has symbolic resonance. Jesus fasted for 40 days. Muhammad was 40 when the archangel Gabriel appeared to him. The Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years. Mr. Brandes writes that in some languages, 40 means “a lot.”

The word that appears a lot in the hebrew texts that they translate to "40" didn't actually mean that in context. It should more be translated to "gazillions". It was a word that just meant "an unimaginably huge amount". That's why it shows up so much in biblical things.

> Mr. Brandes writes that in some languages, 40 means “a lot.”

Funnily enough, the author notes exactly that, without making the connection that it was probably also what was meant in the bible.

I recall hearing from a colleague who is a bit of a language buff that there's a language where there's only one number above five (or something like that), which translates to "a lot".

This might be a reference to the mythology that has developed around cultures and languages that don't count above a certain low number, as in a counting system that goes 'one, two, many.'


There's a fictional language where five and above all are the same word. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lapine_language#Linguistic_ana...

Not even there yet (the 40 years old limit), but close enough to agree with most points in the article. The one interesting change is that you lose "meaning" now (described as milestones in the article), which is... weird. I'm still unsure how to cope. Creating "meaning" for others (either your kids/relatives or just complete strangers) seems to be a valid way forward, but I am contemplating with the idea you don't really need "meaning" in life. Just living it might be enough. Not sure though.

This was nice. It wasn't a great piece, but it was well-done. Great voice and cogent flow. Far too often that's not the case any more, sadly. I liked it.

I just turned 53, and the thesis the author finally makes resonates with me. In your 40s, you are "done". You aren't finished. It's not that you can't change your life and do wonderful things. It's that a great degree of mystery and worrying about your future has now concluded. When you're 20 and think about doing some incredible thing, it's almost like it's a different person, perhaps some super-cool version of yourself. When you're 50 and think about doing an incredible thing, it's you. You know who you are.

It's much better at 50 than it was at 30, oddly enough. For me, my mid-20s through my late 30s was a bit of a struggle.

There is one major downside to pushing past 40: prejudice and patronizing by young people. It's natural in your teens to turn to your peers for validation and for it to start being terribly important who the cool kids are. For a lot of people in their teens, twenties, and beyond, they look at older folks and the major feeling that comes across their face is "You're not really hitting on much, are you grandpa?" You can see it in their looks, you can hear it in their voice. It's not everybody, mind you, but it's enough to notice.

My stepdad was a WWII vet, a cranky old guy. I loved him. But I realized after getting to know him for many years that he avoided younger people. It wasn't that he didn't like them. He liked sharing ideas and discussing things with everybody. He just had better things to do than put up with their patronizing prejudicial bullshit.

When I finally figured it out, it didn't make sense to me. Now that I'm on "the other side", so to speak, I can see where he's coming from. I don't agree with his decision, but it's understandable.

Still, overall, after 40 life sort of opens up again, like it did in your teenage years, only this time you don't have all the psychological baggage you had back in the day. I'm looking forward to seeing where all of this goes!

I kind of wonder if the geniuses in their 20s doing great things do so because they’re already in the 40s mindset of not having a bunch of psychological baggage. It seems often that folks come from somewhat priviledged backgrounds and tend not to lack for confidence

The most significant change I've noticed in myself after 40 is a refreshing lack of reckless excitement and energy expenditure over shiny new ideas and projects. I do only what I believe I want to do, and nothing more. The result is that I do very few things, yet do them well.

French here, I remember there's been a push against the use of "Mademoiselle" as a title by feminist groups, and it's not really used anymore for official administrative documents. See here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mademoiselle_(title)

I also remember when young people began to address me as "Monsieur" when asking for time/directions/whatever, I instantly felt old so it's kind of the same when you're male.

"haha, women problems", right?

I'm a man who is now 32 years old. I honestly feel the same in quite a few regards. Certainly I don't feel grownup, or old. When people call me the local equivalent of "mister" I'm surprised.

But in the end all of this doesn't really matter. One needs to make the most out of every day no matter how old one is.

It's not the same. Been at your place, it's just funny (and illustrating) at 32. I guess you will see for yourself ?

I'm 41 now, but around 36/37 something odd started happening. When I hit the gym teenagers in the locker room would say "good evening sir". As you can guess the percentage of "sir" raises every year :-D At first I tried to compensate deadlifting more than them but now I must feel happy if I can retain my previous year lifts.

I am 47 and never learned in my life as much as I do it today (and have great fun with this), despite getting a PhD in physics at 27 and traveling the world 10 years ago.

I also lost 15 kg last year without real efforts and am biking again to work for now 4 years.

I am happy to be experienced and pass this wisdom to my children. I am also happy to cheer up when they succeed (or yell at them when they behave like idiots).

It is just that I feel that I am the essence of pure brilliantism (if there is such a word, derived from brilliant), with a lot of humility on top :)

I have never been so good that in my late 40', even if there are pills to swallow and my elbow hurts.

Reaching 40s has been brutal for me. I dont have the illusion of starting off on a shiny new project because I am perhaps too jaded with all such projects that either never got off ground or failed miserably in the past. But its also the question of what sort of legacy will I leave for my children as I understand more of myself and hte person I have become. The mortality question often comes up, but more in regard to how my family will end up without me (in terms of finances and such). While life has worked out good so far, I have never been so acutely aware of my weaknesses as I am now and that hurts.

I feel she is not describing being 40 she is describing being human.

It is very hard to filter out your experiences in regards to one aspect of yourself.

An example of this that i have found in my life is people taking a group they think they are a part of, Then assuming that they understand how everyone in that group thinks.

A common example of this being some men thinking they can talk for all men in general. Or some women talking like they understand how all other women think.

I think the last point pertains to all people, and it is just threat women are slightly more emotional and social that they use this kind of thinking.

You have to remember and remind yourself that mirror neurons reflect others in terms of you and your experiences. This is valuable for quick thinking on the spot but should not be the only mode.

Sometimes this can be useful, to notice things introspection had a blind spot for.

decide which female customers to downgrade

The French would not consider it a downgrade but a term of deference and respect. They don’t think about age like Americans do. Look at Macron and his wife, he was 15 and she 39 when they met.

I feel like I've been promoted when they stop asking for my ID to buy beer at the grocery store.

The author is married. Available images of her from cursory googling show a prominent wedding ring. Hence "madame".

Edit: we went to the same high school. I wonder if she had madame softley for French...

The sudden switch could be something else. I know waiters that remember wich “category” you are in based on your last tip several weeks ago. They have a strong incentive to remember because of the extra money. I can relate from my part time job at a food store. After one year you start to remember what every single customer is buying, and what’s differ this week. Not everyone is probably this way, but you only need that one waiter to influence the rest.

Yamraj in the Mahabharata asked Yudhister at the river, what is the greatest truth in life? Yudhister replied, the greatest truth in this life is, despite one having to die, man lives like he is going to live forever.

That should answer how to survive in your 40s.

I can interpret that two ways.

1. I should act like I am going to live forever, take more risks and do not dwell on the inevitable shortness of my existence

2. I should not act like I am going to live forever, I should take more care of myself and value each day for the small precious gem that it is.

Which one does the Mahabharata suggest is the better interpretation, or should I hold both in my mind at the same time?

You got those mixed up. If you're acting like you're going to live forever you take less risks (because you have forever to lose). If you're acting like you're not going to live forever, you can take more risks, you have little to lose.

I think both is true. Taking care while being the wild thing you are, is basically what coming of age is about. The more you know the world beyond your comfort zone, the more unlikely places where they are you can find, too.

With age you are also more able to let ambiguities be ambiguities, because you do no longer feel pressed in finding new insights all the time, except when you are.

Number 2, spot on the with precious gem as Hinduism also teaches this human life comes once after many many births in different bodies so we should use it to find our real purpose.

hm, I'm not French (I'm from Belgium) but I was taught the Mademoiselle/Madame switch had nothing to do with age, but with marital status. Wikipedia seems to agree: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_honorifics

(I'm french)

Strictly speaking, you're right. Mademoiselle is for unmarried women, and Madame for married women. It's like Miss vs. Mrs in English. But for some reason, there's this assumption that older women are married, and younger ones are not, or something along these lines,

I don't think the reason is that mysterious.

so it's a combination of looking old enough and good looking enough to be married. (having a ring on also would trigger this.)

That reference to Kant was...how do I put this charitably...forced.


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[gender specific article]

doesn't answer the question in the title (1 star)

We need to never stop learning and we need to keep deepening our human relationships. These both take on new dynamics in our 40s, especially as we realise we are an older person in most contexts and how quickly that reflects in how we are treated (the Paris café is a wonderful example of so much of this experience)

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