turning 40

Turning 41 and the Aftermath: 14 Days of Reflection – Episode 6: Holy Shnikeys, I Climbed a Mountain

crimbing

28 and (mostly) fearless.

When I was 28, a friend told me about her solo trip across Africa. Seeing me blanch, she remarked, “Being alone in a strange place scares you? Maybe you need to spend 3 days alone in the desert.”

That was the exact opposite of something I’d wanted to do. Imagining the sun setting over a rocky desert sandscape, the evening winds, the cry of desert-foxes in the distance, and only me, all alone – that terrified me.

And less than a year later, that’s exactly where I found myself.

Once I was there, my backpack loaded with apricots and halva and countless water bottles, I was no longer afraid.


On day two, I climbed a mountain.

I didn’t know it was a mountain until I climbed down. The ascent had been arduous, hot, interminable, but I didn’t know what I was climbing until the other side revealed it to me in its desert splendor.

A mountain.


archiveRecently, I discovered a new feature: the blog archive. It’s a line of code you can install in your blog to create a list that readers can click and browse.

I did, and I clicked, and guess what I saw?

Blog posts. Lots and lots and lots. Way more than I could have imagined.

Some low points: the death of my uncle. High points: a Style Up that close to a thousand people read in a single day. And plenty of normal, day-to-day stuff: when to roll up blazer sleeves.

Without realizing it, I had climbed a mountain, word by word, month by month.


Tomorrow, Gabi and I depart for a weekend together. Towards the end of the weekend, I’m turning 41. And looking back over the three years we’ve been together, and the years I lived before knowing her, it’s a mountain of sorts. I’m proud of how far we’ve come together. And I’m proud of how high I’ve climbed, solo.

And sometimes, it takes looking back to see how high you’ve climbed.

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Turning 41 and the Aftermath: 14 Days of Reflection — Episode 5. How do you know when the suit fits?

deansuitMy colleague, Dean, is a dapper dresser.

He’s pretty much a sage in any topic of conversation: how to handle criticism, how to shake off a bad day, how to turn 60 without losing your marbles.

So when Dean asked what I thought of his new, made-to-order suit, well, I was honored.

This lead to a whole conversation about fit; how do you know when you’ve achieved a perfect fit?


Humbly, I offer my thoughts.

1. When it fits, you know.

We spend a lot of time in life toiling over choices. Most of my best decisions in life were not so much something I “decided” as “came to recognize.”

In a shop, looking in the mirror, with a proper-fitting shirt, a great color or pattern, some styley, new kicks, you’ll say: whoa. There it is.

And guess what? That’s it.

coffeeshop2. You get compliments – on the right thing and on the wrong things, too.

Don’t embark on any endeavor with compliments in mind.

On the other hand, when you’re really nailing it, people can’t help themselves. You’ll get compliments on what you’re wearing, sure, but also, people will compliment your new haircut which you got five weeks ago, your new glasses which you’ve had for a year.

What people are picking up on is not your clothes. Rather, they can feel your confidence.

3. Your well-fitting-whatever will live on top of your pile (or at the front of the closet) because you can’t get enough.

Choose your outfits like you should choose your relationships. What sort of shirt/relationship do you want to be with? Something that pushes you out of your comfort zone but leaves you craving the “real you?” Something that is steady and constant – but a but predictable. Maybe even boring?

stripes2How about something that you’re just excited to put on. And when you say goodbye, it’s for a short while, only?

That’s a good fit.

4. It brings you joy.

To be honest, I’m a pretty spiritual guy, and I connect very much to religion, ritual, and all the spiritual stuff in the old books with the yellow pages. 

That said, I know that real joy comes from simple things. Good food. Beer. Music. Hiking. Art. And spending time with someone you love.

If you find a great outfit, it might bring you some joy. Don’t deny it. Embrace it.

It’s a tiny taste of the larger joys that life has to offer, but hey – life is tough. Snatch your joy wherever and however you can.

smoo5. It connects you to others

My friend Luke, who has a Ph.D. and a way with words, once described his feelings about moving away from the community he’d grown close to for several years, and did this by referring to his basketball shoes: “These shoes fit so well, I don’t even feel them. In fact, it’s hard to tell where my foot ends and the world begins. That’s how I feel about you all.”

Yes, indeed. Well fitting clothes, like a well-fitting community, like a great relationship, help you feel united with yourself and connected to the world.

The Meaning of Mid-way Aged: [30 DAYS OF WRITING: EPISODE 15/30]

It takes midway-age to rock tweed.

It just might tale midway-age to rock tweed.

This is day 15 of a 30 day New Year’s Resolution.


I did the math. I’m halfway through my New Year’s Resolution. When this write-o-rama began, I was sitting in a “casita” in Austin, feeling hungover, feeling happy. Fifteen blog posts later, the topic du jour has shifted from cutting fashion corners to death and dying. My New Year’s resolution is middled aged, and it is aware of its end.

Speaking of middles – both my Uncle and Grandfather died around their 80th birthdays. And while this doesn’t mean that I will die when I’m 80, nor that I think of myself as m-m-middle aged, given that I turned 40 this year, it puts things into perspective. Namely, for my New Year’s Resolution, and for my life, there may be a long, long, long time to go, but it’s not going to be any longer than what’s already been. I’m not middle aged, but I’m mid-way aged.

This brings to mind some of the ways people react to hearing that I’m 40. I get a lot of “no way”s – a lot of “you certainly do not look it,” and more recently, from a retail salesguy, “Congratulations!” A couple of days ago, someone said I looked 20, but I’ve seen pictures recently of when I was 20, and I look like a strange, long-haired, gothic Yentl. I don’t look 20, and I’m glad I don’t look 20.

I didn't have the eye to put a look like this together when I was 30.

I didn’t have the eye to put a look like this together when I was 30.

While most of the dudes rocking selfies on Instagram are 20 or 30-something, I enjoy being mid-way aged. On the one hand, when I wear a suit, I don’t look like an intern, wearing something handed down from his big-brother. I look like I belong in an outfit with gravitas. On the other hand, when I wear something casual, I make a point to wear something with clean lines and bold colors. I don’t want to wear blingy sunglasses or “streetwear” like the midway-aged guys I’ve seen lurking around Hollywood.

I want to take advantage of having survived this long, with a slightly higher budget for clothes, with a sharper eye, with a more discerning taste, and most important, with the confidence that younger men lack, the lack that keeps any young man from looking like he belongs in a red-velvet ball-room.

I plan to eat lots of kale. Exercise regularly. And wear what I look good in, long past mid-way age.

stripes

You can dress youthfully without dressing like a kid.

The old people sitting around my Aunt’s house after the funeral agreed: growing old sucks. I sympathize with their achey knees and their non-stop trips to the doctor.

But midway-aged? It’s pretty great.

Thoughts on turning 40: The Comic Conclusion

Wherein our hero turns 40 and attempts to find resolution on the complex feelings about this new decade.

For those of you who’d like a refresher…

Part 1

Part 2

And now, the main event.

All comics drawn with s Micron O1 pen on a Paperblank Journal. No corrections or erasures. Boldly, onward, I draw.

All comics drawn with Micron O1 pen in a Paperblank Journal. No corrections or erasures. Boldly, onward, I draw.

comeek v22

Line “crawl like a turtle through time” comes from poet Jay Driskell, who shared it with me in a poem around 1996.

comeek v23 comeek v24comeekfin comeek v31 cooked comeek v32 comeek v33 cooked comeek v34


Thankyou, dear readers, for joining me on this journey. I’d love to hear from you – your thoughts on important birthdays you’ve reached…or one coming down the road.

 

Turning 40: A Send-Off – Part 2.

Image

All cartoons drawn with Micron O1s in a Paperblank Journal. No corrections or erasures allowed. Boldly, onward, I draw.

Yesterday, the last day of my 30’s, I drew part one in a cartoon series about turning 40 – “Who I was, who I am, and who I’m becoming.” If you missed it, check it out.

Today, the conclusion. And if it raised any thoughts about your own birthday (if you are having a birthday any time this year), please – COMMENT below, share your thoughts, ideas, musings, and maybe a blessing for my new decade.

Happy-Birthday, Self!

 

5 year incrememnts v2

5 year pt 2


 

thought experiment


myths v3

last part v1
last part pt 2 v1


Will Evan reach resolution?

Will Evan find his new self?

Tune in tomorrow – for the existentially exuberant conclusion to “Thoughts on Turning 40!”


Okay…

I hope you enjoyed my reflections on turning 40.

Below, share your thoughts on your own upcoming (or recent birthday – if you had one this year) – wherever you may be in this journey!