Sunday, March 17, 2013

Reflections on 40

I went down to Bermondsey, south of the Thames, yesterday to see Judd Apatow's latest movie, "This is 40." Apparently it has come and gone from nearly every other London theater -- the only one I could find with an afternoon show was in Bermondsey. It gave me a good excuse for a quick photography walk in another neighborhood. Not that I ever need an excuse.

I didn't have a whole lot of time, though, and besides, it was raining. So after about half an hour I retreated into the theater and saw the movie, which I liked -- parts of it made me laugh out loud -- but which also seemed ultimately a bit long. Maybe that's because I didn't have much stress over turning 40. As a milestone, it really didn't faze me at all.

The movie did make me appreciate that I've kept my life simple. The couple in the film are about to lose their big house, the guy has started a record company that's floundering, they have two kids and an unexpected third on the way, the woman has a struggling shop that's mysteriously losing thousands through possible employee theft. I was sitting there thinking, "Wow, how great is it not dealing with any of that?!" I may have some struggling ambitions and a rambunctious dog, but my life with Dave is gravy by comparison.

Every time I think of taking a big step like going to graduate school or opening a photo gallery, I think, "Is it worth the risk? Is it worth the debt?" And the answer is always no. For better or worse, I am extremely averse to debt and risk, and usually decide that it's best to enjoy what I have. Does that keep me from moving forward? I don't think so -- I think it's far more likely I would just lose my shirt!

The important thing is to feel like I'm still growing, and for now, at 46, I do.

(Photo: The Time and Talents Settlement building in Bermondsey, a historically listed building that once housed an organization to benefit working women and girls.)


  1. Our culture presses us to always get bigger and better as if where we are is not good enough. We are also averse to debt which kept us small when we were in the growing phase of our business. We were at the point of stepping back or getting a business loan and getting bigger. We chose to step back. Had we got bigger we would have lost the whole point of what we were doing...making art.

  2. Be true to yourself and grow at your own pace.

  3. Turning 40 wasn't that big a deal to me either - although in retrospect maybe it should have been given what all we've gone through in the last eight years!

    I've always figured that if I ever win the lottery there's not much change that I'll blow the money on some big scheme. I just don't have that entrepreneurial gene.

  4. I look back now at when I turned forty and it was a beautiful thing. I wouldn't be twenty again for anything but I might go back to my forties. They were luscious in many ways. I miss them.

  5. I commend you! Oh, if only more people would think this way. I'm in the process of clearing our my mom's house. After that, I will start on mine and can't wait...simple is better, less clutter, less stuff, less bills, more peace/solitude/happiness!

  6. What a cool building! Did you take pics of the top of it too? The brickwork looks exquisite!

    I would go back and do my 40's over again in a heartbeat.

  7. You are wise! Just keep doing what you are doing- you are living this life of your very nicely, Olga, I am sure would agree. Wonderful shot of the building! Cool inscription! I agree that now is probably not a good time to invest in some crazy scheme, not that your's are crazy- just that things feel like they are sort of floating right now. Maybe that's just me!

  8. I would say you move forward bravely in your life and take risks too. Since I've known you you've moved to another state, married, moved to another continent, published photo books, changed careers, traveled and explored, and adopted Olga. I'm glad life feels simple and good.

  9. I think you have and do take risks--calculated ones and there is nothing wrong with that, after all, look at where they have taken you and the wealth of experiences you've had as a result...

  10. Thanks, everybody! Ellen, I've often wondered why our culture is so obsessed with growth.

    Peter: Indeed. That is the best advice!

    Bug: I read about these people who win the lottery and then lose all the money, and I think, HOW?!

    Ms Moon: So many people say that about their 40s!

    Helene: Simplicity is SO much nicer. I've been downsizing for years! LOL!

    Lynne: I didn't shoot the whole building -- the upper portions didn't strike me as particularly distinctive, though the historical page calls it "purple brick," which makes it sound pretty unusual!

    Linda Sue: I don't think it's just you. This IS a risky time. I feel like everything is in flux. I could not tell you where we as a society will be in 30 years.

    Angella and E, after I wrote this entry I thought about my risk-taking, and you're right -- I do take risks. I guess they just don't seem like risks to me, which is why I don't readily see them as such. Even when I quit my job and joined the Peace Corps, or quit my job and moved to Manhattan, or quit my job and moved to London, they all seemed like reasonable choices under the circumstances!