Issac J. Bailey | The unexpected joy of aging

I’m happy to be 40 because that means I’m no longer 39 or 38 or 37 or 36 or 35 …

I reached the milestone age just recently and have shared a great deal of good-natured, humor-filled, back-and-forth banter with my wife, who also turned 40 recently, about just how old we are getting.

There were jokes about extra naps, an urge to bombard the early bird special and creaky knees.

There were jokes about sexiness waning and a natural causes death lurching.

There were jokes that made no sense and unfunny jokes that made us giggle anyway.

The aging process has never much concerned either of us.

Life is to be lived, not wasted over thoughts of regrets of the past or fear of the future.

You can’t undo past mistakes and missteps.

But you can make it impossible to fulfill the purpose for which you were created if you dwell upon them.

Age maybe more than a number but the richness of a person’s existence can’t be quantified by 2 (or 3) digits.

I’m happy to be 40 for a reason that has nothing to do with age.

I’m happy because I no longer have to tell people I’m 39, an exquisitely difficult task for an adult stutterer with my brand of the speaking disorder.

The position into which my articulators move – with lips curling and tongue pressing up on teeth – to voice the “thr” sound at the beginning of 30 frequently trips me up.

That’s why for the past decade I’ve felt a tinge of dread every time someone asked me my age.

I didn’t know how long I’d have to stumble for getting out 35 or 39 or 37.

Sometimes it was only a split second, sometimes a few seconds.

Sometimes I’d clear my throat, hoping to cough it up.

Sometimes the person would make a quick joke.

“You forgot your own age, man?”

And every time, it would be fruitless to try to explain that no, I didn’t forget my age or I had a mouth stumble because I was nervous or rushed, but that it is because of a peculiar speaking condition scientists are still trying to unlock the causes of.

That part of it doesn’t go away, people’s unsolicited and off-base advice, their penchant to speak as though they are the expert on something they encounter once in every 100 speakers – more expert than the person who has dealt with it everyday for decades.

But 40 is a welcome change nonetheless, no matter how much my knees begin to creak.