Me and my parents.

Me and my parents.

It’s coming… and it’s big and it’s scary and it’s…my birthday.

I don’t usually shy away from turning another year older. But this is the year I turn (whisper please) 40. Yep. That means I’ve been on this earth for four decades. Wow. I just never thought I would get here.

Not that I thought I was never going to make it to 40. That I was going to die young. I just never contemplated this age. While my husband and friends get older, I don’t think I do. Of course I mark my passing year with a celebration, but in my mind I’m 12.

I remember attending a Pathfinders camp (part of the Girl Guide movement) when I was around 14. We were doing some introspection work and one of the questions was: “What will you still be doing when you are 70?”

The leader probably wanted us to ponder what it’s like being a senior.  How our lives will change. How we’ll have to learn to adapt our bodies to a slower pace. How we should cherish every minute of our youthful lives.

“When I’m 70 I’ll be doing the same things as I do now,” is how I answered the question.

I had no problem believing that when I was that age I wouldn’t have changed a bit – body or mind. However, now that I have a lot more life experience, I can see into the future a bit better. While I still believe in that answer, I believe that life changed me and has lessened my youthful arrogance. Things have happened to me along the way to 40 that I wasn’t expecting as a teenager. Good things and bad things. Happy things and sad things. But for me, no matter what happens to my body and mind throughout my years – it’s my soul that keeps me young.

This doesn’t just mean “staying young at heart,” because getting older has its own merits. It means not letting hard life lessons tarnish my soul forever and weigh me down. It means considering my place in the human race and giving back. Allowing my soul at every age to grow from wonderful and harsh life tests.

At almost 40 I can see this now. The Pathfinder exercise went a lot further than the people who made it up ever considered. At almost 40 I’m contemplating it still. Now excuse me, I’m going to have a 40th birthday party and enjoy myself.