Sunday, February 10, 2013

reflections on turning forty

I'll begin this blog as I ended the last one, with a paraphrase-- "When I was young I was told, 'You'll see, when you're forty.'  I am forty now and I haven't seen a thing."  The super cool French composer Erik Satie (whose ouevre includes prototypes of minimalism and performance art, among other things) said this, but in the original quotation the age was fifty.  But the point is just as salient with forty.  I don't feel I understand this world any better than I did as a child.  The thing is, I think this is a good thing, or at least it can be.  The trick is to attain a balance between keeping a child-like wonder when viewing the world and having a healthy dose of caution which has been earned with experience.  That aside, my big take-away from yesterday is this: events which are ostensibly the most about you are actually the least about you.  You see, I don't like to celebrate my birthday, so I always exercised my prerogative not to do so.   But with this birthday being something of a milestone, my mother made a stink about my grumpy unwillingness to celebrate.  I relented.  I had a little gathering of family last night and it was awesome.  Then the epiphany came which will decode the cryptic statement a few sentences earlier: however rotten and miserable you may be there are other people in this world who are happy you are here.  To deny them a chance to celebrate you is stingy and asshole-ish.  So birthdays, weddings, funerals, those types of things are not really about you but rather are a chance for those who love you to celebrate you.  So from now on, small-scale birthday parties for me.  One more quotation, direct, to wrap this up.  It comes from, the creative force behind the Black Eyed Peas.  In an interview on NPR he said: "Thirty isn't the new twenty, forty isn't the new thirty.  Creativity is the new youth."  Fuckin' a to that.


  1. Happy Birthday, Patrick! I like what you say here, "however rotten and miserable you may be there are other people in this world who are happy you are here. To deny them a chance to celebrate you is stingy and asshole-ish."

    Makes me feel better about myself already :-) And I don't know about understanding the world any better, but I think Confucius does say that at forty he had no more doubts or delusions. Do you feel that you now have no (or least less) doubts or delusions? :-)

    1. thank you nobel. i do indeed feel i'm past, for the most part, the doubts and delusions. i feel i've got an optimal balance of experience and energy. glad i could make you feel better about yourself...

  2. Belated Birthday Wishes Patrick!

    "there are other people in this world who are happy you are here."

    It always amazes me when I hear that my friends and family want to see me...kinda weird but I just find it hard to comprehend sometimes!! :)

  3. Just saw this post, sorry.
    This milestone is encroaching my doorstep this week, so I see many parallels here. I have disdain towards celebrating my birthday, too. However, I'm excited to enter this new decade of my life. My thirties started out great, but the latter half of that decade went to Hell and I made little effort to climb out of it. I still carry the scars from that experience, but I find that my awareness of life around me is stronger now, which brings me a sense of peace that I haven't felt in ages. With this calmness that I feel, I'm inspired to start anew and carve out the life I deserve to have.
    So, this is how I'll enter forty on Thursday. I'll let you know how it goes.