Welcome to my page of quotations about being in one’s forties. Being there, doing that!
Thanks to modern medical advances such as antibiotics, nasal spray, and Diet Coke, it has become quite routine for people in the civilized world to pass the age of 40, sometimes more than once. ~Dave Barry, “Your Disintegrating Body,” Dave Barry Turns 40, 1990
But now that I am thin on top,
And sagging slightly round the crop,
I realise what father meant,
By saying he was quite content,
To be what Time intended he
By all the laws of life should be.
For now I’m neither old nor young,
I’m free to give the subject tongue,
And say that when a man’s a sport he’s
Sailing in the roaring forties.
~Kenneth Alfred Evelyn Alexander (c.1890–1953), “The Roaring Forties,” in The New Zealand Railways Magazine, 1931
I was cursed or blessed with a prolonged adolescence; I arrived at some seeming maturity when I was past thirty. It was only in my forties that I really began to feel young. By then I was ready for it. ~Henry Valentine Miller (1891–1980), “On Turning Eighty”
I was a fourteen-year-old boy for thirty years. ~Mickey Rooney (1920–2014)
~Terri Guillemets, “The FORTies,” 2013
A man can speak of his age without regret, when he is only in the mid-forties. ~Max Nordau (1849–1923), “The Art of Growing Old,” How Women Love and Other Tales (Soul Analysis), translated from the German by an unnamed translator, 1896
At a period of life when many have been living on the capital of their acquired knowledge and their youthful stock of sensibilities until their intellects are really shallower and their hearts emptier than they were at twenty, Dudley Venner was stronger in thought and tenderer in soul than in the first freshness of his youth, when he counted but half his present years. He was now on the verge of that decade which marks the decline of men who have ceased growing in knowledge and strength: from forty to fifty a man must move upward, or the natural falling off in the vigor of life will carry him rapidly downward. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894), The Professor’s Story (Elsie Venner), 1859
my life story
of forty years
sadness and joy
exactly who I am
~Terri Guillemets, “Mid-flight,” 2019, blackout poetry created from Nicholas Sparks, A Walk to Remember, 1999, pages xi–xiii
The same truth may be more broadly expressed by saying that the first forty years of life furnish the text, while the remaining thirty supply the commentary; and that without the commentary we are unable to understand aright the true sense and coherence of the text, together with the moral it contains and all the subtle application of which it admits. ~Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), “The Ages of Life,” Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit, translated by T. Bailey Saunders, 1891