Of course, Pamela Druckerman, author of this piece, might tell me not to worry about what I'm missing. We're all missing something.
This piece, in fact, is rooted in that idea: "So far in my adult life, I’ve never managed to grasp a decade’s main point until long after it was over. It turns out that I wasn’t supposed to spend my 20s frantically looking for a husband; I should have been building my career and enjoying my last gasp of freedom. I then spent my 30s ruminating on grievances accumulated in my 20s."
She spends the rest of the essay trying to make sure that she doesn't miss the main point of her 40's. Some of it is mundane: "More about you is universal than not universal. My unscientific assessment is that we are 95 percent cohort, 5 percent unique. Knowing this is a bit of a disappointment, and a bit of a relief."
Some of it seems both mundane and important:
"When you meet someone extremely charming, be cautious instead of dazzled. By your 40s, you’ve gotten better at spotting narcissists before they ruin your life. You know that “nice” isn’t a sufficient quality for friendship, but it’s a necessary one.
People’s youthful quirks can harden into adult pathologies. What’s adorable at 20 can be worrisome at 30 and dangerous at 40. Also, at 40, you see the outlines of what your peers will look like when they’re 70."
Here's my favorite: "You will miss out on some near soul mates. This goes for friendships, too. There will be unforgettable people with whom you have shared an excellent evening or a few days. Now they live in Hong Kong, and you will never see them again. That’s just how life is."
I've spent so much time regretting the people whom I feel I should have kept in touch with, which is everyone I'm not keeping in touch with. I like this bit that gives me permission to let go of this belief that I should have done a better job at keeping track.
Of course, that's easier with people who come and go quickly. There are others, old housemates, old college friends, true soul mates--I do wish that I could do a better job at keeping up with those. And Druckerman is younger than I am, so I'm guessing that she has yet to deal with the sorrow at friends who leave us permanently before they should.