I am turning 40 this year. I don’t feel old. In all honesty, the number doesn’t mean all that much to me. But I am told that it’s a big milestone so now I feel somewhat obligated to reflect on it.
(Insert uncomfortable silence here)
OK, I’m done reflecting. If I think back to when I was a kid thinking ahead to when I would turn 40 (I believe I just broke the space time continuum) it doesn’t quite look the way I thought it would. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just a thing. At the time 40 seemed so far away it was unimaginable. I guess kind of like 80 seems right now. But it will be here in the blink of an eye. Just like 40 was.
So, in my time of reflection, I can’t help but think. If I could do it all over again, what would I do differently?
(Insert dream sequence here)
1) I would read a lot. Not the stuff they make you read in school though. I’m sure there was a reason we were supposed to read The Catcher in the Rye, but I couldn’t tell you what it was. All I know is that it hasn’t made me a better person. I would instead spend my time reading anything I could get my hands on from the personal and business development section of the library. I probably would have failed English but I would have gotten an A+ in life. I’m OK with that.
2) I would be nicer to people. I wasn’t a jerk or anything. I think I just took myself too seriously for a while there. I held a lot of grudges. Shut a lot of people out. I would change that. There are some people I wish were still in my life that aren’t. That sucks. I have made amends with some and they are back in my life. That doesn’t suck.
3) I would have started to save money earlier in my life. I got my first job at 13. I saved my first dollar at 25. That’s 12 years of buying stuff like calculator watches and Atari 2600 games. None of which I have any longer. Had I put away 20% of what I made through those years I would have a couple of more zero’s to my name.
4) I would not have followed the crowd. In school you either fit in or you tried to fit in. I tried to fit in. I didn’t. Worse, I cared that I didn’t. I wish I didn’t care. I made a lot of decisions based on that, which is not the best place to be making decisions from. Now I don’t care if I fit in or not and life is so much better!
5) I would have fixed my leg. When I was 12 I jumped a curb on my bike into traffic. Not my most shining moment. I got hit by a car and my left leg was broken in half. Ouchy! The doctor in the emergency room…how can I put this gently…sucked. He set my leg wrong. It was twisted so my left foot now turns in a little. By the time I got in front of a good doctor I needed to have my leg re-broken to fix it. It would hurt. A lot. I decided against it. Now, with my left leg turning in slightly and my right leg turning out as usual, it looks like from the knees down I am always walking 10 degrees to the right.
6) I would have stuck with computers. I used to be a geek. I know what you are thinking. Yes, it’s true. Hard to believe, I know. In fact, here is a picture of me in all my glory…calculator watch, braces and glasses, programming a game on an Apple II+ which was my first computer. The only thing missing from the picture was my trombone. I eventually stopped. Probably because it wasn’t cool or something stupid like that. See number 4 above. I’m glad I’m back into computers again.
7) I would have started a business in high school. I never knew this was an option. It’s much easier to start a business now than it was back then (I’m almost 40, remember?) but I still wish I tried. I think it should be mandatory for everyone to try and start a business at some point in their life.
8) I would have bought a totally inappropriate car when I got my drivers license. My first car was a 1988 weenie blue Chevy Cavalier. Looking at the kid friendly cars we have now, I wish I had a different car back then. Something that was cool. Unpredictable. A car that made no guarantees that you were actually going to reach your destination. I think everyone should have the experience of leaving their car on the side of the road and walking home. I missed out on that one.
9) I would have gone to see David Bowie on the Sound+Vision tour. I’ve always been a huge David Bowie fan. In the summer of 1990 he went on tour. I didn’t go. I think it’s because tickets were really expensive at the time. I figured I would go next time. There was no next time. I have a bootleg of the concert that I’m listening to right now as I’m writing this. It’s making me feel worse.
10) I would have lived on a different coast and another country. I traveled a lot while I was on tour as a professional musician. I only actually lived in a few different places, all of which were on the east coast of the United States. I always wanted to live in San Francisco. Or possibly another country. Even if just for a little while to experience the culture. Instead I settled where I was comfortable.
11) I would have taken more risks. I used to be a big risk taker. Then I got married and had kids. Everything changed. All of a sudden I had other human beings that I was responsible for. When it was just me, I could eat peanut butter toast everyday for dinner. I couldn’t ask my family to do that. So I became more conservative. Which, in a cruel bit of irony, became more of a risk than if I had taken more of a risk.
12) I would have applied for a job at Pixar. I had no experience. I also lived 3,000 miles away from their office. It paid nothing. I would have to answer to the guy that swept the floors. None of that mattered. I just wanted to be in that environment and I figured I would learn the rest. I never applied so I will never know.
13) I would eat less sugar. From the time I was about 3 until about 35 I ate more chocolate than any human being should be capable of doing. The result? I am now hypo-glycemic. That’s a pre-diabetic condition for those keeping score. I vow to beat it. I have since cut out all sugar from my diet. Now when I take my kids out for ice cream, I don’t get to enjoy it with them. I watch. All because I had no self-control growing up.
14) I would be more outgoing. I used to be very introverted. I would go what felt like months without talking to people. I pretty much lived inside my head growing up. I eventually snapped out of it and am now very outgoing. Not before I missed out on meeting a lot of interesting people and hearing a lot of good stories.
15) I would have started this blog sooner. I wanted to start a blog years ago but I didn’t. I didn’t think I had that much to say. Or maybe I didn’t think anyone would care about what I had to say. Not sure. So I sat on the sidelines and watched others do it. I eventually started a few months ago. So far so good.
And last but not least…
16) I wouldn’t have written this post. All of this stuff sounds great. It would change everything. The problem is that I love who I am. I love my family. I love what I have accomplished. I love all of the things I have experienced. I love the challenges I have faced. I love the people I have met. I love my crooked leg.
I love my life.
Why would I want to change any of it?