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Keep calm, life begins at 40: The rest is about searching and practice

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[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ife is a journey of self-discovery. It is a series of successes and failures. Before you begin life at 40, you experience many misses and less hits.

The saying that life begins at 40 evokes a notion that this the time one begins to enjoy life. This could be as per the explanation by Free Dictionary that by the time you are 40 years old, you have enough experience and skill to do what you want to do with your life.

The maxim, life begins at 40 implies by forty years, you should be able to work things out and have almost everything in place. For instance, have a decent job, be married with kids, worked hard and have acquired some assets.

You are likely to have gained quite a significant degree of seniority and respected in your field having risen to senior management level in a company. You have gained enough experience to recognise the standard market rate for the work that you do and to advocate for adequate salary. You own a personal car – a status symbol, you live in an upmarket, can afford a holiday, and perhaps have built a residential house. You own some shares in a blue-chip company.

Familywise, you seem to be nurturing your family well and you relate well with your spouse as you have lived enough to tolerate one’s annoying habits. You somehow know how to relate and handle matters as you have become more patient, tolerant, and wiser.

Some take life begins at 40 as a time when you have had a series of failures and successes and you have matured enough to learn from your failures and not repeat mistakes. You start living reasonably.

But life begins at 40 could as well mean, an age when one begins to experience the harsh realities of life. When life turns to be a rough ride. That is when you realise that life is not a rehearsal.


From 18 to 25 years, it is YOLO (You Only Live Once). As a young adult, you think that you have all the time to spoil life and you will begin sparing it 40 when you have outdone yourself.

You think and behave a know-it-all and has lived enough. At 21 years, just barely out of teenagerhood, you are optimistic about the future. You are confident enough to make decisions and choices about life, you are in college pursuing a course you are passionate about. You feel you can establish a meaningful relationship with the opposite gender. Out of sheer optimism, you make worthy declarations about life now and the coming days.

And once life begins to brighten up: you are doing well in college and with part time jobs, there is an income that makes you live large. And soon you are out of college and with a well-paying job, you move out of the crowded estates that were generous to student budgets.

And where do you move to? If not to the upmarket, it is to the environs that neighbour these upmarket to be classified among those who are ‘living’.

Join the ‘Living’

And as soon as you settle to enjoy your reward, having toiled all the way from childhood to adulthood, together with your sweetheart, you see the urge and sense of settling down for better for worse. You have the means and he/she has. And even if one of you doesn’t, if the relationship has ‘stood the test of time’, you move in.

To be among the ‘living’ demands the following: residing in a ‘good’ suburb, a car, afford shopping in those malls, wearing the latest fad, keeping tabs on the latest technology, holidaying…

You think and behave a know-it-all and has lived enough. At 21 years, just barely out of teenagerhood, you are optimistic about the future.

Towards 30s is when young adult learns to make their way in the world. Professionally, they begin to grow roots. They find out if they choose the right profession. Conventionally, this is the time young people marry, start a family, buy their first car, and built a home.

The first expenses are rent, food, transport, and entertainment. When the first child arrives, so do expenses increase and so does the second and third child.

Wrong choices in terms of investment and unwise expenditures entraps one to Rat Race of life. Life becomes a struggle to earn enough money to cover expenses, living from pay check to paycheck.

The demands to ‘live’ might inspire you to take some loans that turns out to be bad debts. For instance, to buy a personal car, buying a family house, afford an exotic holiday…when you could have invested in assets.

As your family grows, yours is the duty to make them ‘live’ as you hang out with friends as you show off that you are living. You ignore that your financial actions and decisions will impact the coming days.

Failure to develop during 30s can adversely affect the rest of your life.


Because of ‘living showbiz’, you end up carrying a higher debt burden because of increased cost of living.

At 40s, you are used to the life in the second lane if not first lane. You cannot downgrade it. You realise that your salary doesn’t make you rich.

Having a salary, however, much it is, implies that you are living from hand to mouth. When you are fired from your job, you face harsh realities as you adjust.

At 40s, you realise that there are individuals who necessarily do not depend on their salaries. They don’t bother to check their bank accounts and if they do, it is occasional. They have some income streaming in from investment projects.

With your salary servicing numerous expenses, life becomes stressful instead of enjoying your life with your family, career and living in comfort.

But good life can begin at 40

The real world is not always fair, equal, or kind. Mistakes made during 20s and 30s can make life hard as you begin your 40s.

At 40 is when you realise that life is not a rehearsal. Most people think that their time is up and therefore they cannot do much. But it is perhaps the only time you must do whatever you still want to do, and you must get on and do it. 40s is a time to reflect on where one has been and where one is going.

Read: Jacque Maribe flew high, fell harder

After wasting your first 40 years of living, life can begin at 40 when you hit the refresh button and begin to act wisely.

Life can begin at 40 but it gets a lot better. What matters is choices and decisions you make. They determine how you will live at 50s and beyond.

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AMOS BURKEYWOhttps://burkeywo.com
Amos Burkeywo is a writer, editor and publisher based in Nairobi. Email: [email protected]
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