Turning 40. Am I over the hill?

Today is my birthday.  I turned 40.  I got a call from my father-in-law wishing me a happy birthday and he told me I was over the hill… a common phrase I have heard a few times already today and heard many times before when someone else I knew turned 40.  I don’t think it is accurate.

When my father-in-law told me I was over the hill, I replied with, “Nonsense! Life is a constant uphill battle.”  He chuckled and responded with, “That may be true, but your best years are behind you.”  My quick retort… “Not even.  I still have five kids to move out of the house.  The best years are yet to come.”

It all brings me to a simple question: Why is 40 the magical number to be “over the hill”?  Is it because of the average life expectancy?  If so, I was over the hill on my 34th birthday.  At least that is based on a worldwide statistic from 2010.  For the United States, as of earlier this year the average life expectancy was 77.5 years to 80 years.  I don’t know why there is a range.  Maybe it is that men are expected to live 77.5 years and women for 80 years.  If that is the case, I was over the hill last year.

Even more confusing is if you factor in my religion and where I live.  Mormon men, who live in Utah, on average live 10 years longer than the rest of the nation.  That means that I won’t be over the hill for about 4 more years.  Oh so confusing.

So if “over the hill” means I have hit the half way mark and life is downhill from here, what does it mean?  Does it mean it is time for the “mid-life crisis” to occur?  If so, I better head off to the import dealership to get my Lamborghini and drive to the coast where I can take up surfing lessons and live on the beach.

To me, turning 40 is just that… marking another year of life completed.  I didn’t feel any different today than I did yesterday.  I’m not any better or worse looking.  I haven’t lost any of my memory, sight or hearing.  I haven’t lost anything.

Instead, I have gained.  Another year of experience, another year of life, another year of memories.  What could be better than that?

Getting older is a physical state of being that at some point in life will also take effect on faculties within the body and maybe the mind.  But for this new “over the hill”-er, I am still 25 in my mind and don’t plan to get any older than that.

I know, I know… Just because I am feeling like I am 25 both mentally and emotionally, doesn’t mean that my body will respond like it did back then.  Trust me, I already learned that lesson… when I turned 26.  Regardless, I am not getting old.  Like the song we would sing when I was in Primary says, “…one year older and wiser too…”  So if you want to call me an old man, I will counter that I’m a wise man too.

Just another view from a Palmtree.


Giving thanks for…

It’s Thanksgiving 2010. This year I am spending it in Montana at my wife’s sisters house with our families. Their mom, dad, grandma, and youngest sister also came to share in the festivities.

This is a different experience for me. Normally I only come to the farm in Montana for the 4th of July holiday. It makes a great family vacation that the kids love to take in the summer. Riding horses, four-wheelers, tractors, mosquitos (yes they are that big…and if you are too heavy, they will gang up to help out), and playing in the pond with the trout. Yep, it is summer camp without the expense and with relatives. The only thing that makes it better is having fireworks…because nothing is illegal in Montana. I am thankful that my family has those opportunities.

So this year instead of going to my wife’s parent’s house in Meridian, Idaho, we chose to come to Montana. The trip was going to start out on Tuesday afternoon. It is normally about a 7.5 hour drive. Well, my daughter made the girls basketball team at her high school and the first game was scheduled for Tuesday night, so we postponed the trip for a day. (By the way, I am thankful that my daughter made the team, especially after she dislocated her knee after only a few minutes of stretches on the first day of tryouts.)

Tuesday came and with it a blizzard…one that was supposed to be so bad that the ballgame was cancelled for the safety of the visiting team that had to travel. We checked the weather conditions for our route of travel and found out that the road we needed to take was closed for the main stretch that didn’t have any alternatives. The areas that were still open were covered in snow and ice. We were supposed to be on the road at 6:00 am the next morning and suddenly it looked like we weren’t even going to be able to make the journey. We decided to wait until the morning and see if there were any improvements.

I figured there would be no point in getting up as early as we had planned. After all, how much work would be done on the roads during the middle of the night? 7:30 am came around and the roads were open with a lot of caution warnings. We got all packed up and were on the road by 10:30 am. At that time we figured we would be at the house in time for dinner.

Just before 8:00 pm we arrived. Yes, our journey took us an extra couple of hours and in some ways we were lucky it was that short. I have never driven on worse roads. I take that back, I have…but I didn’t have any passengers, I wasn’t married or a parent and definitely didn’t feel responsible for any other lives. This trip, however, was definitely different as I was now responsible for six other lives inside my vehicle, and wanting to make sure that we stayed safe and they all got to live long lives. I am very thankful that we traveled in safety and arrived without incident. We hardly even slid on the ice patches. The only problem with the trip is that I got a major case of TB…and no, not tuberculosis. My dad would especially appreciate it as he didn’t have much of a gluteal muscle to provide padding when he sat.

It was nice to relax the rest of the evening inside the warm house. I was definitely thankful that we had shelter…it was forecast to get below 0 degrees overnight with the wind chill factor supposedly getting to -30 degrees. I don’t know if it really got that cold because I was inside and I slept really well.

Thursday morning, Thanksgiving Day, and the kids were raring to go. Remember, we are used to riding horses and four-wheelers when we come here. Add in snow with that fun. Plus, everyone was hoping that the pond was frozen over so that we could ice skate. However, using four-wheelers on the pond while pulling a sled would be even more fun. Unfortunately the ice wasn’t thick enough, but the hay field still had plenty of snow. I was thankful for that.

All of this is fine and dandy, and I am definitely blessed to be able to have such fun times, but an added measure of gratitude came after I came in the house from riding four-wheelers and got on the internet to read some news stories from around the world.

I have much to be thankful for. I don’t have to go through the ordeal of being adrift in the ocean for 50 days like three teenagers (two 14 year olds and a 15 year old) were in the South Pacific. They survived off raw fish, a bird they caught, and rain water (sea water when it didn’t rain). Their families figured they were gone for good and had already held memorial services for them. Imagine the gratitude they all feel…and I feel it for them.

I don’t have to go through the ordeal of being stuck in my bathroom for three weeks like the lady in England. No, she wasn’t stuck on the toilet. I think that would have made it worse. The door handle somehow broke and she was not able to get the door open. And there was no window in the bathroom. She survived and was found. She got out of the bathroom and had to recover in a hospital, but she is grateful. I am glad for her too.

I don’t have to feel sadness at this time for the loss of an infant child due to a rare disease like a friend of my wife’s family. I am grateful for that and even more grateful that this little child is still saved in the love and grace of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

This Thanksgiving Day I am blessed. I have a meal to eat until I am sick and for that one reason I am probably richer than at least half of the world population. I have family to be with, unlike many who will spend the day alone. I am in a warm house, which many people can only wish for…today and many more still to come.

And for all of you that have a chance to read this, I am thankful that you have that opportunity. Hopefully you are thankful too, because how many more people don’t have computers, don’t even have access to the internet or can’t read?

We are all blessed to different degrees and we are all probably thankful to different degrees. I hope we are thankful. If you can’t find reason to be, start counting your blessings. List them one by one. Start with life. The turkey on the table doesn’t even get to count that one.

Just another view from a Palmtree.