I recently attended the 40th birthday of an old flame. For anyone with even the smallest shred of vanity this is an occasion where you want to look good, if not smokin’ hot. I aimed for the latter, squeezing my dipples into black lacey spandex and sucking my tummy in. After carefully engineering my hair and makeup I glanced in the mirror hoping to confirm a vision of sexiness. What I saw was a middle aged woman! Elegantly turned out but more like a news reader than the ageless MILF I was aimed to project. Bummer. These moments are becoming all too frequent as I approach 42.
The iconic musician Nick Cave recently said ‘The only person who can say they’re happy getting old is someone who isn’t actually old yet. Every day, I get less and less happy about that idea. It’s awful. I don’t recommend it to anyone.” I cant help thinking that in Nick’s case the decline has been hastened by the mountains of narcotics he’s consumed. Nevertheless one has to admire his candour. I’m not enjoying watching my chin(s) melt like cheese into my neck or the crevices on my face eroding like the grand canyon either. But before I call the cosmetic surgeon or rush out to buy a red ferrari (do they come in automatic?), I must consider the upside. Sure aging is bad but its not ALL bad. There’s a silver lining to becoming a silver fox.
In March my favourite magazine, New Scientist ran a piece titled “Marvellous Middle Age” with the caption ” Far from being over the hill, humans in their fifth and sixth decades are at the pinnacle of evolution”. (10/03/12). Things are looking up already. Amongst a lot of palaver about evolution, hunter gather tribes in South America, comparisions to other species, blah,blah,blah sits the argument that our mental decline during this time is minimal. Middle aged folk are on top of their game and ergo rule the world. The author (himself 42) concludes that “without the evolution of middle age, human life as we know it could never have existed”.
Gee wiz – I’m bursting with self-importance now. Coming back down to earth, ruling the world is an unlikely prospect for me – aren’t the AIs on the verge of doing that? Whilst I cant quite bring myself to celebrate it yet, I’ve listed four good reasons to relax into middle age.
1) You dont have to go to night clubs anymore.
Did we really enjoy this back in the day? The loud, monotonous music, the over priced drinks, the pretentious scene, the constant energy zapping prowl for a potential mate. Aaarh- I am tired just thinking about it. Social life now, involves going to a friend’s place and enjoying a few wines and some cheeky conversation whilst our kids play together. I feel no compulsion to battle the elements on a winters night just to end up at some seed dive. I’m far happier at home with a good bottle of red, a pizza and a DVD. Call me boring if you like. Another advantage of middle age is that I just dont care.
2) You can ignore pop culture.
Last year we drove past Sharkies – the Cronulla Leagues Club where there was a sign promoting a Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus tribute show. I wondered why they were holding it in an over 18s venue when the target audience was mostly under 8. My husband remarked “why are they having a tribute to people who are unknown?”. He had never heard of Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus and that my friends is no bad thing. We’re excused from knowing much about the pop tarts and boy bands of today. At the same time we’re reluctant to bemoan the lack of talent nowadays like our parents did in the 80s. Ironically this is because we dont want to draw the young, hip crowd’s attention to some of the crap we liked in the 80s. Remember A Flock of Seagulls, Adam Ant, Plastic Betrand, Wang Chung or (cough cough), Milli Vanilli?
3) You can enjoy good rant.
You’re entitled to be disgusted about the carbon tax, the IR laws, boat people, revenue raising speed cameras, the family court, Kyle Sandilands, Carmen’s undignified exit from the Voice, the dumbing down of society led by Kim Kardashian, Telstra, the size of Tony Abbott’s ears, the size of Tony Abbott’s speedos, those filthy, pornographic videos clips and those clowns at the local council etc etc. You’re entitled to share your disgust with everyone via Facebook or even in person around a BBQ. We didn’t do this in our younger years when the conversation revolved around sex. Which is a neat segue to my next point.
4) You realise there’s more to life than sex.
Its been around for a while. It wasn’t invented by Don Draper in the 1960s as Mad Men implies. However now it is absolutely everywhere. Plastered on bill boards, clogging cyber space, blaring out of TV screens and polluting the radio waves with lyrics like “blow my whistle baby”. So much human endeavour goes into the pursuit of sex. Yet how much of our lives are spent actually enjoying the act. If you’re getting it three times a week you’re considered very fortunate. Realistically this would equate to about 30 minutes per week of ecstasy, leaving a 10,050 minute void to fill (so to speak). Its often said that “you only worry about sex and money when you’re not getting any”. As a consequence of being married with kids, sex isnt always at the front of my mind like it was when I was young and single. This is wonderfully liberating and brings a renewed appreciation of life the universe and everything.
There must be thousands more reasons why we should saviour middle age like the frivolity of the mid life crisis and the allure of greying hair on men. Thinking on this keeps me from collasping into depression when I notice a new wrinkle – something which is happening nearly everyday.