Now that I’m ankle deep in my 40s I’d like to share some things I’ve “learned” in the last year.
On Being a Daddy
Having a child leads you to experience emotions you never knew you had, and exaggerates all the ones you’ve been familiar with for years. Chief among them are protectiveness to the point of paranoia, mysterious wonderment of a human unfolding in front of you, and a humbling bewilderment on how to do parenting.
Having a daughter has squeezed out and exposed the conservative old dad in me that I never knew I had. I joke that Moka won’t be allowed to date until she’s 25. But maybe I’m not joking.
I also thought I’d never be one of those parents who spoiled their kid. But I look at that chubby little face and I’d probably give her anything she wants.
To minimize conflict between parents it’s best to create zones of responsibility. Mommy has final say on pajamas, daddy is in charge of day wear. In practice, we collaborate.
On Mortality and the Body
After spending most of my adulthood sculpting my body I’ve had to “let my body go” because of a bad back and now raising a baby. I look at pictures of me then and look at myself now and I look about the same. So what was all that work for?
One of the reasons I had started working out was to feel more solid. I often felt I floated around. Now I’m enjoying feeling that lightness and looseness again.
I’m about halfway through my life. Man, a lot’s happened in that first half. If I have half as much fun for the the rest of my life, I’m good. I could also do with a bit less of the drama.
Tomoko wants me to live longer than her so she doesn’t end up alone. But not only is she younger than me, her grandmother is still going strong at 92 and her great grandmother lived to 106. So I’ve got my work cut out for me.
Not only do I not want to leave Tomoko widowed, I want to watch Moka grow up as much as I can. Now I understand why married men with children have lower car insurance rates. I don’t even J-walk anymore. Too risky.
On Radiation and the Pursuit of Safety
Speaking of risks and mortality, I’ve had to research long and hard about whether it’s safe to live in Tokyo. Bottom line: yeah, it’s safe. And it’s probably safer than most places in the world.
In terms of radiation, I found that the one or two days when Tokyo had “spikes” in radiation, it was still lower or about the same as the every day levels of most major cities around the world, including Hong Kong, New York, London, Madrid, just about every city actually. And some countries like Brazil and Australia ooze huge amounts.
I learned a lot about sieverts and becquerels.
I also learned that there are risks to living anywhere in the world.
Oregon (my home of many years), for instance, has hundreds of public school buildings that were built before earthquake codes were set. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. In contrast, just about all the buildings in Japan withstood the 9.0 earthquake.
The UK (where I lived before Japan) has the highest crime rates in the industrialized world. Japan? The lowest.
Traffic fatalities in California (where I grew up) are the highest in the US. Deaths in Japan due to car accidents have been in decline for the last decade.
It makes me shake my head when China wants to limit imports of Japanese agricultural products when babies there die from their tainted infant formula.
And so on and so forth. My conclusion? If you really want to live a long and healthy life, eat fresh food, don’t smoke, drink a lot of water, get your sleep, and decrease your stress. (Full disclosure: still a work in progress for me.)
And most importantly, find something you love to do. And find some people to love.