Turning 40 is the most significant change since turning 20. You’re not just chasing a horizon, you are crossing a border. New freedoms open up.
Twenty meant I could drink, drive, default on tax, renege on contracts and it was no longer illegal to let you have sex with me.
30 was a tepid non-event.
Turning 40 was more momentous. I woke up to realise that I was just better. The protracted activity of growing up was at a palpable culmination at last. Yup. Bodas call me muzeeyi now.
I put on weight, for starters. For all my adult life I have been lean as a snake– 70kg and 32 waist, and those were my proportions and vital statistics. Until the 40s arrived and I got a paunch.
I could finally wear a suit like a boss
You don’t understand how important this is.
A slim man in a suit can look good.
A slender man in a suit can look good.
A svelte gentleman can look dashing in a tailored ensemble outfit, but without a significant, well-earned well-nurtured and properly-cultivated roll of belly fat that is all you get: a pretty boy.
A portly man in a suit, though, looks impressive. He won’t fight you, he will have his lawyers file a lawsuit against you. He won’t pick your pocket and steal your phone, he will embezzle your ministry’s millions. He won’t get fired. He will be asked to resign.
And I am almost there. There is just one problem…
If you have lived right then, compared to your twenties, by your 40s you should have more money, more power, more you, more other people, more skills, sense, direction, clarity; all the important things an intelligent human needs.
But there’s this: you become an adult at twenty. Up until that point you are in development. Larvae is infancy, pupae is adolescence; you think you are old just because you have been alive for 20 years, but they don’t count. The first ten you were a child. The second ten you were a teenager. Now, at 20, you are out. Product launch. Brand new. Adulthood. You have just started now now.
However, for the next bunch of years you are going to abuse, poison, neglect maintenance, and wreck that body and mind of yours with bad sleep, poor diet, insufficient exercise, drugs and alcohol and, from what I gather from these statistics among millennials, repeated infections of multiple STIs.
Plus your body isn’t bouncing back as fast as it did when it was still in building stage. Now it’s accumulating the damage. That stuff is building up. You are getting weaker. Then when you are 40 is when it starts to show.
I used to do four weekly columns for Vision when I was younger, including Bad Idea. That requires a lot of cortisol, so four or five times a day I would scoop a fisftul of ninja-black coffee grounds and dump it onto the biggest kasengejja I could find. But then, given the amount of sugar I would have in the cup, I couldn’t fit much water into the concoction. In the end I was imbibing noxious black syrup all day.
The smell was so strong that the sub-editors would call me all the way to their bullpen when I had just brewed a cup. I thought it was because they loved me and my charming ways but they would send me away as soon as (Name withheld) also left. I later found out that they were using the smell of my coffee to mask the smell of his kavubs.
I think that is why I have IBS. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It means you can’t digest certain foods, so you get bloated when you eat them and get this massive buildup of gas. It can leave a man looking pregnant.
I can’t socialise after nine thirty because that time is reserved for flatulence.
It’s the only reason I am not Forty-fat yet. Because I can’t eat as much beef or drink as much beer as is necessary, but still…
I’m in my 40s, and I still have the other benefits. Like you are aware of more. By which I don’t just mean you know more– A lot of the things that make us wiser than kids are things they already should know. They have been evident, right in your faces, and will be for the next two decades. It’s just that youth can be so narcissistic, so self-obsessed it never looks beyond itself long enough to see them.
But reality doesn’t need your acknowledgement. It will wield its fist regardless. You will bear its impact. You will feel its blows. And if you are smart then by the time you are 40 you will have learned its lessons.
You can not just see but understand and become aware of what you are, what things are.
Youth thinks people who act different are weird. When in your 40s you see people acting different and ask, “What does he/she know that I don’t?”
You learn that love is a lottery and the odds are against you, so you stop feeling entitled to it. The best you can do is make yourself someone who can be loved, then love yourself, love others, and if the angels’ blessing falls, hope you are ready not to screw it up.
Another boon of turning into your 40s is having left the last rat’s ass I had to give on the last day of my 39th year. In your 40s you not only don’t care what people think as much, but you actually relish the look on 20-year-old’s faces when they see you dare do something sensible instead of something conventional.
You realise that money is a confidence trick which only works as long as you believe it. Value has nothing to do with price and wealth is not about what you buy, it’s about what you have left after what you buy.
This article has been illustrated by photos of stuff I got from my new health food providers called Kwenu. This is the link to their facebook.
It’s the moral of the story kids. Take care of your body, take care of your mind, take care of your heart. Drink thunderstorms of water, take in the evening walks, read and learn, open your mind and eat your vegetables.