There’s a lot of mileage made in popular culture about fear of aging, but the truth is, it’s rarely presented as an issue for folks like me – middle class, middle age white guys. In fact, we’re more likely to be told that Charlie Chaplin was still fathering children when he was in his seventies, and I still don’t know what to make of that.
I didn’t worry when I turned thirty. I’d once been told that men hit their physical peak at eighteen, but if that’s true, then my peak wasn’t much to shout about, and if I ever get around to making an effort, I’m pretty sure I could get into better shape, even now. Thirty was nothing, though. I was a dad of young kids, involved in the school, trying to make a hobby into either a career or a paying prospect. I was learning to be a good husband, still thinking back then that it was something you could become, not something you had to choose to be every day.
I don’t remember turning forty, really. I notice I didn’t blog about it, and we didn’t make a fuss about that birthday, but instead threw a party when I turned forty two, because that IS an important number, right? Forty is officially middle-age, and even today a guy making it to 80 is doing well, beating the averages. But my kids still seemed young, and I could generally keep up with them. There were the odd aches and pains, but I still wasn’t actually doing any exercise, so that wasn’t surprising.
And now fifty. Two of my kids are so grown up they’ve left home. One’s working full time, the other’s about to finish university. The remaining stay-at-home may be about to start work too. My latest shot at promotion may have stalled, but I’m happy in my job, and it brings in enough to allow us to live happily, if not extravagantly. I’m not disappointed that I never became a motorcycle stunt man (as ten-year-old Dim once wanted), and I’m happy with all the choices I’ve made, I think. Being fifty doesn’t feel as old as it used to sound.