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Thursday, October 22, 2020
Opinion Richard Connor: Is 40 a milestone or just a marker along life’s...

Richard Connor: Is 40 a milestone or just a marker along life’s highway?

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The 911 Porsche was cherry red with a spoiler on the back – a whale tail, they called it – and sure enough I had been driving an Oldsmobile 98 before I decided to attempt coolness with a Porsche. I resided in Pennsylvania in those days but a friend from Texas occasionally visited to work at my newspaper and he had me wearing cowboy boots.

I had installed a special audio system for the cassettes we played in those days and the promised effect was to create a sound studio inside the car.

With the engine at a revved-up roar and the Porsche winding along a narrow road through the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, Jerry Lee Lewis started singing what in part seemed like my anthem.

Today he traded his big 98 Oldsmobile

He got a heck of a deal

On a new Porsche car

He ain’t wearing his usual grey business suit

He’s got jeans and high boots

With an embroidered star

The song was Middle Age Crazy, and it’s about fighting the inexorable march of time and age.

And today he’s forty years old going on twenty

Don’t look for the grey in his hair

‘Cause he ain’t got any

Although I was not yet 40, I related to some aspects of that song and its vivid images of self-delusion. It remains to this day one of my all-time favorites. So does Jerry Lee, crazy as he was through most of the decades of his life.

The April 22-28 issue of the Business Press highlights 46 local Texans under the age of 40 whose accomplishments are many. They received the recognition at our “40 Under 40,” awards party April 24 – and, yes, there were 46 winners this year instead of 40; we received more than 250 outstanding nominations and there were just too many great candidates to limit the list to 40.

As I prepare for this event each year, I often ponder the question of age and what it means. I was 39 years old when I came to Fort Worth as publisher of the Star-Telegram and 30 years later I am still working at a newspaper – working as hard as I ever have. I’m better at my job than I was then. Once it was a given that folks retired at 65, but that’s become an outmoded notion if there ever was one. Many people today are working well into their 70s and 80s, some out of necessity and some because they just want to keep working.

I am a baby boomer and many of my generation saw 40 as a milestone, an important juncture in their lives. I doubt 40-year-olds today see it that way. We asked our 40 Under 40 honorees this year to tell us when they knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. Many said, in effect, that they won’t know until they get there – they still have much to do, much to accomplish. It’s a hopeful and refreshing view on life; the growing never stops.

Jerry Lee’s song refers to the “long uphill climb” to 40 but today it’s no more than a place to pause, reflect, and then get on with it.

The hill is high, the climb continues. Let’s all make the most of it.

Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at rconnor@bizpress.net

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