A Mountain Hippie Looks at Forty…Thankfully!!
Posted on November 21, 2014
I have always been interested in numbers. From the complex equation of quantum physics that explain the mysteries of the universe, to the power behind certain numbers such as Pi and the Golden Ratio of 1.6180, to me numbers are more than just representations of values – they hold answers to many of life’s great questions. Today I am confronting a power number of my own. As most of you read this on November 21st, I am turning the big 4-0.
Forty seems to be a number of transition. In Judaism, rain fell for forty days and nights, the Hebrew people lived in the desert for forty years, and Goliath challenged the Israelites twice a day for forty days before David shut him up. In Christianity, Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights in the Judean desert, forty days was the time between the resurrection and ascension, and, as every kid that gave up chocolate for Lent remembers, that also lasted 40 days. There are countless examples of forty being a transitional number in Islam, where Muhammad was forty when he first received the revelation from Gabriel, and in Hinduism, prayers often consist of forty stanzas. Forty is a number of substance for most traditions around the world.
Many traditional cultures believed that forty was the age that one developed wisdom. This was the age when one would become an elder or could begin to practice shamanism or other religious ceremonies. There also seems to be some backup for this in neuroscience. While the brain develops rapidly until around age 25, there is some evidence that stronger right/left brain connections start developing around 40. While it might be too early to call this a neurobiological representation of wisdom, it is an interesting line of research…especially for those of us taking the last steps up the hill!
On the flip side, I guess I’m supposed to be having a midlife crisis. Some think the male midlife crisis is due to the fact that men freak out about not being attractive anymore to women of childbearing age. Another study I saw said the midlife crisis was more about the man’s partner entering menopause, and not about the age of the man (I’m not touching this one!). Regardless, I guess I’m supposed to start shopping for a sports car, coloring my hair (which is rapidly turning gray), and doing crazy stuff to make up for my loss of vitality and attractiveness. My wonderful wife thought I might be entering a crisis because I liked an orange car…I pointed out that liking an orange Subaru hatchback is a pretty lame excuse for a “crisis!”
I figure I’m probably too content and lazy to go all crazy. I have an amazing, beautiful, and patient wife; friends who love me as much as I love them; the best team of co-workers a person could dream of having. Right now as I look outside my office window, I’m surrounded by mountains that bring me piece and sanctuary – and I absolutely love my job. While a crisis might be out of the question, I do see this time of my life as one of transition and change.
Being born so close to Thanksgiving, I’ve always connected this time of year to being thankful and reflective, and as I turn forty, it seems even more so this year. I was incredibly lucky to have the insight as early as I could remember that I wanted to help people, and I haven’t regretted that decision for one moment. I’m not sure there is a better gift than to be able to live out your greater purpose every day. There is a moment during every presentation I give, usually while I’m pointing something out on a slide, when I’m overwhelmed by the fact of how much I love doing what I do, and what an honor it is to be a part of the great work being done for people in need around the country.
As I sit on top of the hill, I look back and am thankful for all the experiences, personally and professionally, good and bad, that have led me to this point in life. But my eye is pulled towards the future and what we all can accomplish together. We sit on the edge of new paradigms in genetics, neurobiology, and psychology that challenge the existing harmful and outdated mindsets, and the systems those mindsets have created. Just because we own the high ground – be it financial, moral, scientific, or spiritual – doesn’t mean the revolution will be easy. But it is good to know, my friends, that it is ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I invite you to share your own accomplishments in the comment section. What have you and your organization accomplished in the last year that fills you with pride and joy?