Well hello there! I’ve been off on other novel planets for a short but intense while, and have emerged to discover that I am 44. FORTY-FOUR. That was the footy number of my first love. I was eighteen then, and from my devoted position on the boundary of freezing Launceston footy fields, the idea of actually being forty-four had not entered my consciousness. But here I am. Saying things like, “Well hello there” and “first love”.
According to wikipedia (so it’s gospel), middle age begins at age 45 and ends at 65, when old age sets in. This means I have a little under a year to swizzle about in my younger years.
Wait! Again accoridng to wikipedia, “young adulthood” ends at age forty. This means that there are five years, from 40 to 45, of indeterminate adulthood. I’m not sure whether to feel insulted or liberated by this. I think I’ll take liberated. It could explain why I’ve had moments of feeling invisible whilst out and about. Perhaps I actually am invisible, and that these are the years in which we can indulge in all sorts of last hurrahs without anyone noticing. Maybe I’ll go out and dance on some tables and stuff. Except that I don’t want to. And also, the slightly seedy dance club of my youth has recently been turned into a luxury hotel.
[Side note, is this the way of contemporary Hobart nowadays, replacing seed with chic? This is not a bad thing – it might mean less fanny grabbing etc, but I’m a bit sad that our seedy tolerance has lessened and those establishments that remain entirely intimidating to tourists and completely normal to the freewheeling local, the young and the eccentric are disappearing from our central fun districts. What will happen to everyone’s coming of age stories? (“And then we sipped on a glass of rosé and talked about Netflix”.) And how will we ever learn to manage, call out or avoid the fanny-grabbers? I can’t help but think we should cede to a certain amount of seed, within reason.]
Speaking of reason (and to return to the point), maybe 40 to 45 is a sort of Age of Reason in which we have a good wallow in various philosophies, if we haven’t already, and choose the ones by which we live. (“What about the world around us?” asked John Farnham in his song, Age of Reason, in 1988, when he was 41.) If this is the case, then I’ve missed most of my enlightenment phase and should probably get a wriggle on. So far the loom of middle age has served only to make me accept the fact I should never again wear anything that reveals my midrif. And that although I am a proper grown up and can do pretty much anything I like, I’d really rather not. And I’d rather not in my ugg boots. With a cup of tea.
I thought that being able to stop at the shop to buy a bag of mixed sweets whenever I wanted would be the best thing ever. But I can only manage three or four jelly beans at a time before I feel slightly ill. I don’t want to stay up all night. I don’t want to switch off the radio when the news comes on. If I were at university, I’d be that irritating mature-aged student who asks questions after it’s time to leave the lecture theatre.
I like brussel sprouts. I don’t like doughnuts. Or fruity lip balm. I look for natural fibers in clothes and fibre content in food. I write complaints, my sevens have a little line through them, I’ve read PG Wodehouse and I put voice into my throat-clearing.
So what, if I need to decide in the next ten months, is the philosophy by which I’d like to live the next half of my life (presuming I live that long)? Well, given that I’ve only just realised I’m in the (wiki-bestowed) grace period for getting your shit together, some of my principles actually aren’t all that much different from those of my youth:
Be kind. Laugh. Don’t peak in senior school.
And I’ll add these: Be engaged. Be yourself. Be productive. Go with your gut. And it’s okay not to peak before middle age.
Also, always keep music in your life. Here’s some I made (whilst playing with loops on garage band) on the subject of middle age: