The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.
I have no career. I have no children. I have no house. I belong to a constantly shifting community. And I have just turned 40 years old. To some, this could be perceived as some kind of failure on my part. Others may recognize me as a free spirit. Me? I am not trying to prove anything; I am simply living my life.
These days, my backyard is the Mexican desert . I have sailed many nautical miles on a wooden sailboat. I am in a wonderfully messy, imperfect, and beautiful relationship. The two of us are exploring the world on a dime, and this comes with many challenges. I have learned to fish, to communicate in another language, and to adapt to all kinds of circumstances. I don’t know what our choices will mean ten years from now – but what I am living now is what matters to me. I think they call it being in the moment. While there is no movie-ending perfection, my life is rich with joys and possibilities.
We all have an incredible opportunity – to live life on our own terms. For many of us, that is a scary prospect, especially if it falls outside the norm. What will others think? What if we are rejected? What if we are not happy? What if we stick something out, and regret it later?
I have a tattoo on my right forearm, it says: Nosce te ipsum. “Know yourself”. It is a reminder to live authentically; apparently there was a time that I needed such a reminder. Authenticity comes with being comfortable in your own skin. Not everyone wants to travel the world and not everyone wants children. And some want both. That is our fortune, the indulgence of choice. Over time, it has become easier for me to follow my own path with confidence. Maybe it’s my age, and perhaps it is simply that my intense desire to live genuinely has helped me surmount doubt.
Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes. – Gandhi
This has made some people uncomfortable. I have been criticized for how I live, or what I value, or why I would make the kinds of choices I have made. I like to think that I have gained some wisdom over time. I don’t need to convince others anymore. I don’t need to justify my decisions. And this has set me free.
Yes, I am 40 now. I have reached midlife. What does it mean to be 40? As far as I am concerned, it means I can begin again. I can continue to be a lifelong learner. And I can invent new dreams. I don’t feel like I have reached the end of something, or that I have failed to reach something. After all, 40 is only a number. And the quality of one’s life is so much bigger and more important than a mere number.