The Fourth Decade

Granted I’m just two months past turning 39, but with USAT’s age up on January 1 policy, the big 4-0 is staring me down a lot sooner than it might for non-triathletes.   Strangely, in contrast to my 29 year old panic of oh-my-gosh-I-haven’t-done-half-of-what-I thought-I-would-by-now defining moment, being on the cusp of 40 feels a lot more positive.   Here are what I believe to be the primary reasons for this.

Benefits of turning 40:


Yoda, the supreme archetype for wisdom and mastery.

Confidence in Years of Experience.  I doubt I’m unusual in that I often feel like I’ve been faking this whole I’m-an-adult thing wondering when someone would catch on to my game, or maybe I’m alone in this sense, which I’m totally OK with.  Moving into my 30’s helped, but still…   For some reason, it gets easier to justify to myself that surely over the course of these four decades I have amassed enough experience to have something of value to offer to those 20- and 30-something youngsters.   Trial and error and incremental improvement can be quite powerful in large enough volume.

Expectations of Others.  Listening to some of Dave Scott’s speech last night (that Gary video’d for me while I kept my noisy toddler out of the room), he talked about the different types of fear that drive elite athletes and very likely motivate other successful people too.   As I recall, there was fear of not being successful (however we might define that for ourselves) and fear of not meeting others’ expectations of us.   I have a strange I do but I don’t but I do concern for demonstrating a degree of excellence that I think others might expect from me.  That’s probably me trying to dissociate from my own personal high expectations, but 40 is a blessing for some reason, because I’ve convinced myself that some of the less important expectations might actually BE less important if I’m just old enough to warrant it.  

Being a Master.  The only requirement to acquiring the moniker of master in amateur athletics is the passing of enough time, but the link to the broader meaning of mastery remains.   I like the title of Master and all of it’s positive connotations no matter how I earned it, even if it is just the ability to recount the passage of a large enough number of calendar years elapsing. 

It’s interesting how I’m one of those people that seems to be relishing getting older, not that I’m in any rush.  Of course, I could always use that tired old wine and age adage, but I’d rather defer to the wisdom of Yoda.

Much to learn, you still have.

Click here for more fabulous Yoda Star Wars quotes.

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1 comment to The Fourth Decade

  • Rebecca

    I have a Fall birthday, but always felt like I celebrate my ‘new age’ in spring at my first tri of the season. I guess I am not the only one that feels this way. By the time my ‘real’ birthday rolls around, it is so big deal.

    Enjoy being 40 and it is refreshing to hear that you are looking forward to it :)

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