Journal Entry – Birthday Weekend – 47 Years Old

It is 6:37 AM on Sunday, May 26th, 2024, my birthday weekend. I’m on our extremely large couch with my youngest and our puppy. This is my favorite time of day where everything is quiet except for a soft jazz piano emanating from my “ambiance,” which is the TV showing a peaceful coffee scene on YouTube. The day is full of promise and opportunity. Furthermore, it is Memorial Day weekend with tomorrow off so I need not be anxious about a workday tomorrow.

Having your birthday on Memorial Day weekend was a disadvantage growing up. Kids birthdays were always joyous events but most of my classmates were gone this weekend traveling with their families. Even so some people would show up and my favorite party location was USA Skates. I can still remember how excited I was and specific details such as the smell, the sound of rubber wheels hitting the polished wood rink and the incredible prize booth where everything except tiny plastic toys were forever out of reach costing what seemed like a trillion tickets. I haven’t been to a roller rink this century but believe those prize booths have become extinct, replaced by vending machines such as at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

I do have one strong memory of a birthday when I must have been about ten years old. A girl I had a crush on – we’ll call her Vicky, because that’s her name – asked me to borrow $5 of my birthday money to purchase a pair of Coca-Cola sunglasses from the prize booth. Of course I said yes and I remember she then said yes to skate with me when the “couples skate” came on. She was not into me so it was a favor and I remember how our hands would get all sweaty but we were always too embarrassed to say anything.

She never paid me back that $5 and so I mentioned it to her when Facebook connecting with her when Facebook first appeared and used to be fun. I told her she still owed me that $5 plus interest which only came to a small amount of around an additional $0.75 or something like that. I think she was amused but said she didn’t remember that. That crush lasted until high school and I remember being very disappointed learning in the 8th grade that she had a boyfriend with the same name as me.

Those young crushes were such intense feelings. I’m glad I got to experience them but also glad that those feelings no longer exist at 47 years old. Thinking about them reminds me of a scene in Don Juan de Marco where Johnny Depp (Don Juan) has reawakened amorous feelings in his psychiatrist (Brando) for his wife. Later that night he has this conversation with his wife.

“I just feel as though we surrendered our lives to….the momentum of mediocrity. I mean, what happened to all the celestial fire…. that used to light our way?

“Oh, Jack no. Listen honey. You know all those fires are a lot of trouble. They caused a lot of trouble. I mean, fires are really hard to control. They flare up. They burn a lot of energy and then they suddenly die.”

“I want to tell you something. That’s bullshit. Because all….

“No, it’s not.”

“Yes it is.”

“No, it’s not bullshit. A good, steady, warm glow… you know that does the trick over the long run.”

When I was young I agreed with Jack. Now I agree more with his wife.

I remember I first started writing these ‘check-ins’ at around 38 years old. Doing a quick search 38 must have been the first one.

Check-in at 38

Now, almost a decade has past and it seems all a blur. Without this blog I’d find it difficult to recall specific details of just one single day in that decade. That is why this blog is so precious to me, I can pull up individual days all throughout my life and not only remember the event but also catch a flicker of how I thought and felt in the past. Otherwise it would just have bland memories of the event, like an old black and white still photo, without the color, movement and full on surround sound.

Another reason it is difficult to remember the past decade with intensity is that not much has changed. When I was young there was momentous change such as moving from one country to another. Now, there is not much to separate one day from another. I work from home, children grow very slowly and I’m involved in the same activities day to day.

One thing that has become frighteningly apparent is how old I’m getting. Forty-seven years old is only three years from fifty! What a shock that is to me! In my twenties I still thought of myself as young. I remember going on a few dates with a girl that was 34 and I thought she was a bit old. I then hit my thirties and still considered myself young. In my early 40s I realized I could no longer consider myself young. Now, I’m shocked seeing many of my old acquaintances on Facebook starting to look old and even more shocked when I realize the parents in the comics are in their 30s and those I know in real life are already divorced with multiple kids.

It is not much help to think that I’m just over midlife and still have the second half of life to go. The first half involved so much change, being a baby, a child, a teenager, a young adult and then a proper adult and all the massive changes that came with those years. The next forty years will be absolutely boring in comparison as changes such as high school, college, getting married, children will no longer occur. Instead I’ll only experience them through the eyes of my own children. The next decade will be much the same as the previous.

As for my mindset, excitement about anything is mostly nonexistent and I find it difficult to get motivated about anything. Where is my drive to workout more, to start studying Japanese, or any other language again. When young, that motivation and excitement came naturally, whereas now it seems as though I have to force myself to do something as the drive just isn’t there. I’m hoping it just has to do with chemicals in my brain and eventually I’ll become excited about things again. They say that things improve later in life when money is less of a concern and the kids are grown and doing their own things.

In any case, I try to appreciate the moment and especially enjoy these times with my kids when they’re still young. I miss the babies and toddler versions of them tremendously. Looking at their old pictures and videos I wonder where my little guys went. It’s like they suddenly packed up and went away without saying goodbye being replaced with different people.

Anyway, I am content with my life and am very thankful I made the decisions I did which have lead to my current life. I see so many who have pretty much just sleepwalked through their twenties, thirties and forties waiting for something to happen to them. When you’re young life is so full of opportunity and promise. But without a concrete plan and action on that plan, many of my contemporaries have come to realize that not much is suddenly going to happen to change their lives in a big way. Their lives are pretty much the same but twenty years have passed. More hurdles and difficulties have been presented themselves than grand changes.

So here I am, on my couch, amazed that a decade has passed since I wrote my check in at 38. I vow to be more mindful and try to make an effort to resurrect the motivation to do new things, or reinvigorate old things such as working out more or studying Japanese.

The world is changing tremendously and I’m a bit fearful of what is to come. I had my first chat with AI yesterday (Chat GPT 4.0o) and had a small conversation in Japanese switching to Spanish. I remember telling my mother that the internet and e-mail was going to change the world but that nobody knew exactly how. I have that same feeling now with AI. So far it is just a small assistant, a diversion, a massive profit opportunity for companies. It is going to vastly transform the human experience and just like social media, we only have a small glimmer of what is in store but cannot yet comprehend the scale.

Well, here I am at 47 and it isn’t so terrible. I keep my hair short so the grays are not as noticeable. I look much younger than my contemporaries and am still incredibly active in comparison. I’m still fascinated by life, appreciate the flowers, the sunsets, birdsong and grandeur of nature. I’m grateful for my connection with my kids, and that I’m still able to tap into their worlds through similar interests such as gaming, amusement park rides and karate. Life is good and I have nothing to complain about with the one exception of my body not recovering as quickly as it used to. Life is good.

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! \(^.^)/