Saturday, November 15, 2008


THE NEW 40


They used to say it was 40, back when things were darker and less open, but 60 is where life begins now, life that's at last on the path of your own, as last it was when you were a child, before school and becoming, career and family filled it all up to the brim with hopefully happy and fulfilling goodness.

But now, if you've been paying attention and truly living, you've done it right: that part is complete, the perforce part is finished and it's all receiving now, when life reaches its most personal culmination and things get so much better in so many ways than they ever did at any age transition gone before. The dread is past, like the fear of a first date. Because now, if you've been living, you've earned what's ahead.

Even if you retire early (I "retired" (I despise that dismissive word, use it only when I must refer to the artificial concept) at the age of 30, stayed retired for 10 years of wanderment, then started a family and unretired, taking up a job that during my travels I'd learned that I like. It was all on my terms. Still is. The only terms there should be for a true life. Fact is, I guess I've stayed "retired.")... Like an unlived life, where did the rest of that sentence go?

For me 60 was an easy transition, no different in essence from 0 to 10, 20 to 30, 30 to 40 or 40 to 50. Only now is more focused, with less distraction, for the road ahead is at last my own.

I remember reading some reporters saying that boomers were carrying into their old age some risky behaviors from when they were young - don't Bogart that joint, my friend - and that many of the boomers now have problems that earlier generations didn't bring to old age. Hogwash, as my Gramps used to say, back when it was common to wash hogs. Anybody seen my bong?

I'd say that a greater percentage of boomers are reaching the high promontory of age with a better view of the big pixels than has ever happened before in human history. If anything, that means changes for the good, in my book. A few didn't make it because for them aging didn't bring wisdom. But that's not unique to the boomers. Let's get real here, as most boomers have been doing all along.

And as I said, anybody seen my bong? Metaphorically speaking.

2 comments:

Martin J Frid said...

Having just recently made the big 40ish switch (I can tell you how recently if you ask, kindly) I think I understand where you are coming from.

Yet, that photo of you holding a cigarette in your 20s (?) kind of... bothers me. You promoted smoking and still do? Would I do that, say, for money? Or because I like it? By the time I am 60, I hope I have less of that to think about.

I'm kind of looking forward to turning 60, in style.

Bob Brady said...

By 'truly,' in my case I don't necessarily mean 'purely.' With vocal backup from Blake: "The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom..." or perhaps "The true method of knowledge is experiment." and St. Augustine on bass: "Oh Lord, give me chastity [etc.], but not yet."