Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Post forty

I saw a boxer dog wearing sunglasses today. And he seemed perfectly happy doing so! I desperately wanted to talk to his owner and ask whether the creature ever tried to shake the glasses off, but he was wagging his tail and bounding along very happily. The dog, not its owner. "Only in Shoreditch," I thought... 

Speaking of Shoreditch, I was there this afternoon to see my god-daughters, their mother, Philippa, and grandma, Kate. It was a fabulous antidote to the unceasing stress of the last few weeks and it felt lovely just to spend a few hours playing with water pistols in the back garden with a couple of carefree, happy kids. Silver casually emptied an entire jug of water all over the kitchen floor and Deia was seen at one point standing in a bucket in her socks, the water seeping into her dress like some sort of sponge... Oh to be a child again! 

Turning forty has been a really interesting experience for me, and looking around my friends of the same age I'm witnessing some rather profound changes in them as well. It's not true of everyone, of course, and, curiously, I've noticed it effecting the friends of mine with kids considerably less. Having kids, I think, will make a person a great deal less self-obsessed and therefore less likely to dwell on the horrors of the big four oh. In general, my friends with children have acknowledged the change, but not had the time to wallow in it before the complexities of child-rearing kick in... I think parents store their issues up for the moment the children fly the nest... 

Those of us without kids hit forty and unwittingly realise that we've somehow made a bed for ourselves. It's difficult to start a new career post forty for example, difficult to suddenly decide you want kids, more difficult to lose weight and get fit... By the time we hit forty we have an inkling of how the rest of our lives might be shaped, and some of us aren't sure we like what they see, both physically and metaphorically, when we look in the mirror. 

A few of my 40-ish single friends, particularly the girls, are really struggling right now. I've noticed it a lot recently, with mates who are suddenly on various different anti-depressants, going through dark, somewhat existential times. Gone are the days when everyone seemed carefree, spontaneous and full of the joys of spring. A weight has crept in. A seriousness. People seem shackled and some wear the varying shades of disappointment very squarely on their faces. It's rather sad to see. 

In a few years time, I've no doubt that we'll all be very comfortable with our lives again. We'll all know who we are, and be ready to face part two of the adventure!

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