For the last few months, as this milestone age has approached, I've felt the need to reflect, ponder, muse, and cogitate on the lessons I've learned. For a few years, I would add a lesson a year to a list I had going and I included this list to younger friends in a birthday letter of wisdom. I long lost that letter and decided that simply surviving another year did not in itself mean one had accumulated additional great wisdom.
Some years, in fact, were so blase' that I don't even remember them - the twenties for instance.
One observation I have made, though as I approached forty with excitement rather than dread, was that life really just gets better. In my twenties I discovered just how miserable the teenage years were. I mourn for the many people who look back on high school as "the best years of my life." If you climaxed by eighteen, then you have lived one miserable life.
My twenties were a dramatic improvement to the teens, but with ten years distance between the present and then, I could never go back to that time. I grew very much as a person through my twenties, but those years continued to be a struggle for identity as I created myself professionally.
The thirties, though, I romanticize. I matured professionally and actually reached positions I had never originally aspired to. I also finally reached a personal maturity as I finally accepted myself as a gay man. The decision to accept myself for who I am, is by far the best decision I ever made. It gave me personal freedom to be me without the constant paranoia of looking over my shoulder to see who might accidentally see something in me which was the truth I kept attempting to hide.
The progression of quality of life from decade to decade has been so good, that I am now looking forward to my forties. I'm ready to be there and to see the life I have to live in the next ten years. I'll have to be ever vigilant of my health. I have no guarantee that an aging body will fight the disease as well as my younger body, but I'm going to give it all the tools it needs to fight well.
And I'm already looking forward to botox treatments to keep the crows feet around my eyes at bay, but hey, science is good and gives us such gifts! Who knows what will be around by the time I turn fifty!!