Mindfulness, Philosophy

After 39

Carl Jung may or may not have said “Life begins at 40,” but a great many people on the internet want to know if it’s true.
I’ll tell you tomorrow.

Just tell me something first: How will I know?
Where shall I look?
What color is a beginning?

Does it smell like Thin Mints?
Does it taste like the Mobil Station near the Woodcrest Shopping Center?

Can I buy two for one and carry them both wrapped up in a paper napkin and stuffed at the bottom of my yellow handbag?

Tell me something.

What makes you think life didn’t begin on the 5th floor of Thurston Hall or on the corner of Prince and Mott or behind the mess hall at Camp Comet?

What makes you think life didn’t begin when you tried on your first bra or learned the meaning of the word lesbian?

It’s possible life really began — if we’re being serious for a moment — the day you understood life on Earth has been destroyed by an asteroid at least four times and will certainly be destroyed by an asteroid again.

It’s entirely possible life began when Stephanie died or when Jodie died or even before them when you were a little girl afraid of the dark and Bruce died and then visited you in your bedroom sometimes at night.

Life begins sometimes in a bowl of fruit. It begins in a pile of leaves left behind last Fall. It begins in a creek bed hidden by shade.

It begins
It begins
It begins

And so, tomorrow, I’ll tell you if life begins at 40,
but only if you tell me first how I will know.

9 thoughts on “After 39”

  1. This is beautiful and gave me shivers. You always do that! I must agree with the comment above. I think life begins at birth but I think maybe we have moments of awakening and realization and recalibration as we go along. These may not necessarily coincide with days on a calendar, but then again, with all that attention and focus (and a retreat), they just might sometimes.

    I went to visit a friend today and, in conversation, I asked her how old her mother is. She said she doesn’t know, her mother has always said “you are as old or young as you feel.” I wonder what life would be like if we never counted the days?


  2. Life began on the third floor of Thurston Hall….and as far as 40 goes…the pieces just seem to finally fall into place…which makes us think we’re finally smart…


  3. Happy Birthday Jen. Have a fab day and a beautiful new beginning for what is life if not lots of new beginnings, each to be enjoyed as the endings are celebrated and full of memories. 🙂


  4. Doesn’t it all depend on what one means by “life” ? I think the quote should be …. You begin to understand what is fantasy and what is reality once you reach 40.

    Just like …take some time to smell the flowers . Appreciation of the simplicities of life and love… Not the bullshit of everyday life.

    You’ll understand tomorrow


  5. Lovely and powerful post, Jen. I always enjoy the way you weave your thoughts together in your writing!

    Maybe life does ‘begin at 40.’ But the thing is – that just assumes you only get 1 ‘beginning.’ I don’t buy that for a minute (I bet you don’t either). We begin and end and begin again so many, many times, as often as we choose.

    Here’s to many, many more beginnings for you! 🙂

    Happy early birthday,



  6. Hope you have a fantastic birthday Jen! Love all the comments above and am not sure I can add much more to the wisdom given. I am a few years older thank 40 and do not think life began that day I turned 40…it seemed just like my other day….I do think gradually after that I started re-evalauating priorities a bit differently though and this has made me a lot happier. Look forward to your post b-day thoughts!


  7. Forty is just a number, Jen. I hope it’s the number that marks the first day of the best year of your life. So far. Because every year we get is another gift, and I want them all to get better. 🙂 Happy Birthday.


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