OPINION: Life does not begin at 40, it just gets tougher and more complicated
PUBLISHED: 11:24 23 August 2020 | UPDATED: 11:24 23 August 2020
Our new weekly column The Second Half looks at the crazy journey thorough life after 45
Welcome to The Second Half – a new weekly column focusing on something we’re all enduring on a daily basis – getting older.
As a keen football fan for most of my life I’ve borrowed the title from the second half of football matches – the half that’s normally full of action and drama when teams go for the win. Hopefully that analogy will apply to the second half of my life.
I’ve based all this on the fact that I’m 45, so in football terms, I’m at half-time. With a 94-year-old grandad who still keeps the same hours he would have done in the Royal Navy 75 years ago, I’ve hopefully got enough of his genes in my tank to ensure I’ll get to at least 90.
So, how has the second half been so far? Well I hit 45 on the day that Boris Johnson hinted at a change to our behaviour due to this coronavirus thing that he wasn’t really worried about.
One week before lockdown was officially announced I spent some of Monday, March 16, walking around a branch of Sainsbury’s looking at how little pasta and toilet roll was on the shelves and worrying what I was going to feed the kids. Lunch was a meal deal in the car park. It’s hardly been an exciting start.
But I don’t really want to fill this page every week with doom and gloom and it’s not going to be all about man boobs and going grey either.
I’ve written several articles over the last couple of years celebrating the elderly, from pensioners that run regularly, to how this army of intelligent and savvy 50, 60, 70 even 80-year olds still have a relevant place in our society.
Even at 45 I can see that people of a certain age are written off by society and that can’t be right. My grandad is only five-and-a-half years off hitting 100 and he still makes his own lunch, bakes his own bread and blurts out the answers to Pointless like he’s going for the big prize on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?
I’ve always been pretty positive about getting older and now feel very comfortable being 45. I’ve started making that weird exhaling noise when I sit down or when I get up from off my knees after recovering a toy from under the sofa. I even found myself tapping the top of my pal’s car last week when he drove off after we’d met up. They’re both in the DNA of what it means to be middle-aged.
This week, though, I want to do away with the myth that ‘Life begins at 40’.
I don’t buy it at all. I say hitting 40 is tough for two main reasons. Firstly you realise that you’re not ‘young’ any more. You may still feel young but you realise that there’s now a whole new generation of adults beneath you. It’s 22 years since you were 18 and there’s a whole load of culture out there that doesn’t seem like it’s for you any more. I mean I’m 45 and still haven’t got Netflix. I spent a portion of last week doing a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle I bought at a car boot sale for 50p and I have an addiction to buying beer glasses. These are not the habits of someone in their 20s.
Secondly I’d argue that entering your 40s is tough for the reason that there’s probably plenty going on above you, below you and to the left and right of you in your family tree. You parents are probably getting forgetful, maybe more demanding of your time or, sadly, in many cases, simply not there any more. You probably start to see yourself more and more in them. I keep thinking what my parents were doing when they were 45, simply because I was there and remember how I felt. I was 16 when my dad was 45 and 19 when my mum got there. It was a time when I still lived at home but being in my late teens, I wrongly saw them mainly as people who funded virtually everything and put a roof over my head.
Now I’m there myself and have children of my own who probably see me as much as a fun and entertaining dad as they do a member of staff who provides everything for them from ensuring their devices are fully charged to wiping their bums.
So there’s plenty of demands all around the life of most 45-year-olds. You are officially sandwiched between generations, probably half way through your working life and probably still not really sure what you actually want to do.
Reading this you’re either around the 45 age or it’s a long way in the future or a long way in the past. If it’s the latter, I hope there’s a smug ‘been there, done that’ smile on your face. If it’s a long way off, enjoy your youth.
And if you’re there or thereabouts, welcome my friend. Strap on in and enjoy the ride with me. We’ll do this together.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.