It has finally happened! I have gone from “young professional” to “middle aged” literally overnight. After years of saying “I’m not there yet” and “Still a long way to go,” 40 has finally arrived. For some, turning 40 can be a depressing event full of regrets and “what if” scenarios. I have heard some people who turn 40 comment that their lives are half over. The way I see it though, turning 40 means new challenges and new experiences that I could never have had as a younger person.
Turning 40 has certainly made me stop and think about the first part of my own life. It has certainly been an adventure. Through all of the challenges and difficult times, I have always been lucky enough to have the support of family and friends. Looking back, I can see now that these are the things that really separate the depressed 40 year olds from the excited or optimistic 40 year olds. As young as I can remember, I had parents who supported my activities (which usually did not include school) and I had friends who were there for me all of the time. How many people can say the same? As I became older, I met my wife and we had two amazing kids. While my children may not want to admit it, I see in them a lot of my tendencies and habits from when I was their age. It is sometimes scary when I find my self giving the “back in my day” speech to my kids. If you ask them they will tell you I am an old man, “just like Grandpa.” I am actually ok with this comparison, as Grandpa is 80 and still comes to visit Israel twice a year. I do sometimes get in trouble for sharing my high school prank stories, but luckily my kids have not repeated any of my trouble-making.
These are the people and the experiences that make the difference in a person’s life. Since we got married over 15 years ago, my wife and I have done some crazy things. We left a comfortable life with good friends, jobs, and a big house to move to Israel. Some individuals when on the brink of turning 40 may look at something like this and think “what have I done?” I could have easily thought like that, but thanks to the support of my family, we have built an amazing life here in Israel. But wait, that’s not the only crazy thing from the first half of my life. When we moved to Israel, after much deliberation, I left my career in education behind and got a job with a successful hi-tech company here in Israel. I was handed what so many others were trying to achieve. Working in Israel hi-tech comes with a lot of perks like cars, phones, travel around the world, and enough free food to feed a small country. Even with all of these great options, I knew that leaving education behind forever was not going to work. So, with my wife’s support, I left my hi-tech job and went back into education, eventually opening my own company. Some who have heard this have been very supportive, while a few still tell me that I am crazy. At the end of the day though, I am privileged to be able to work in the field which I love and to collaborate daily with amazing educators throughout Israel. Again, the common theme through all of these crazy actions is the amazing support from family and friends. This is what really marks the first part of my life.
We have all heard the expression that “a glass can be half full or half empty.” I have certainly always tried to be a “glass half full” kind of guy. Whenever there are challenges or hard times, I try to face them head on and attempt to find a solution. At times, this can be easier said than done, as like any human being, I can get frustrated beyond belief. It’s the support though that tips the scale from the “half empty” to the “half full” side.
So, here I am at age 40. I have one son who just celebrated a Bar-Mitzvah and another who will be there before we know it. I am fortunate to live in the best country in the world and to be here with my amazing family. Thanks to technology (and frequent business travel) I have managed to keep in touch with a lot of friends from the “old days” and I have made amazing new friends here in Israel. Life has a way sometimes of surprising us. We never actually know what the next day will bring. As I sit here today though, starting the next phase of my life, I find myself excited for what the future holds. I have heard people say that their lives are half over when they turn 40. The way I see it though, my life is only half-way started. My wife says that when she turns 40 she is going to go sky-diving. No, I have not agreed to this (like it matters) and thankfully, I have no plans to do anything daring or adventurous. I can barely tolerate the merry-go-round, so definitely no jumping out of a plane for this 40 year old. While I have no plans to buy a boat or a motor-cycle, I know that the next decade will be full of adventures, challenges, and milestone, not to mention a continuously receding hairline. Maybe I will feel differently when I get to 50, but for now, I am 40 and looking forward to a great future!