Life at 40

It’s funny how inadvertently we can hold on to some family traditions even if we have long since been removed from those traditions. Growing up my mother always said, “How you bring in the New Year is how you’ll live in the New Year.” That usually meant cleaning the house from top to bottom early in the day and bringing in the New Year either in church or in prayer. A clean house symbolized order within our lives and church more or less spoke for itself.  Maybe it’s more compulsion than superstition, but even now I make sure my place is clean on New Year’s Eve. The rest of the tradition has gotten altered down the line. Now I like to make sure I get in a good workout prior to any partying, because lets face it, I’m hoping to be feeling and looking good in the New Year and always having a good time.

I had long given up on making New Year’s resolutions and not because I felt it was a waste of time or some empty promise to myself that would be forgotten only a couple weeks into the New Year. I think it’s because I seek self-improvement constantly and I wouldn’t limit such improvements to a yearly declaration. So, I was caught by surprise when on the afternoon of December 31, 2012, I was first inspired by Wendy Ida’s story, a person whom I had never heard of until that moment.

I was putting some time in on the treadmill, getting that last workout in for 2012. Wendy was being interviewed on The Jeff Probst Show. Between the running and the close captioning I wasn’t entirely enthralled in the show. Through my deductive reasoning I assumed the show was about defying age. During Wendy’s segment I noted she was a fit, attractive women. Due to the subject matter of the show, I assumed she was the fierce at forty-segment part of the show. Images flashed of her doing competitive fitness competitions, revealing six-pack abs and I read something about her being a Guinness record holder. Soon her segment was over and my time on the treadmill was done.

Wendy Ida

Later in the evening, I was sitting in front of my laptop and Wendy’s name popped into my head. I found myself Googling Wendy Ida. I immediately went to the images and again noted how amazingly fit she was. It wasn’t until I went to her personal web page that I learned Wendy was 60! This will probably mean nothing to you until you yourself Google Wendy. And let me just say, I have no stake in Wendy Ida nor do I own her book or DVD. After watching a couple YouTube clips I also learned that Wendy didn’t start her physical fitness journey until she was 40. In her videos, Wendy performs exercise routines with the ease of a thirty year old. I imagine having her, as a personal trainer, would be grueling. I won’t dive too much more into Wendy’s story, because the whole point of this blog entry is how Wendy’s accomplishments challenged my thought process.

You see, in less than three years, I will be 40 and to some degree I have been struggling with that. We all know aging in the gay community can be difficult, to say the least. I’m starting to ask myself crucial questions like, “what clothing is age appropriate? Will I be married before I’m 40? Is 40 too late to have kids? Will I accomplish my goals before 40?”

Wendy’s story came along and shattered my perception of the age game. Do I think I will have a six-pack at 60 and compete in fitness contests? Not likely, but not impossible. I think one of my biggest struggles is whether or not I would like to have children. I was beginning to tell myself, if I didn’t do it by 40 then I wouldn’t do it. I do realize more and more people are having children later in life, but I didn’t want to be the 50-yr old dad trying to toss the ball around. Watching Wendy jog down the street doing a pace comparable to my own at 60 reminds me age is only a number. I’m not saying that level of fitness comes easy or not without its dedication, but it’s a reminder that life isn’t downhill after 40, for Wendy it was the start of a new life.

So I guess maybe I will have a New Year’s resolution this time around. I’ve always been reasonably fit and health conscience, but maybe it’s time to take it to another level. I think we can all agree that nothing will be handed to us and that includes a healthier body in our golden years. I’m not advocating we all go out and kill ourselves at the gym for the sake of a six-pack. I just think we have more control than we give ourselves credit for. If we believe life is downhill after 40, then surely it will be.

Franco Ford

Franco Ford was born and raised in the Midwest and moved to San Diego in 2003. It was his exposure to border news and politics, as well as his involvement in the gay community, which inspired his first novel, Caution. He holds a Masters in Creative Writing from National University.

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