I feel I ought to mark the fact I have just passed a sort of landmark in age. What’s it like being 40?
Of course, it’s no different to being 39. The passing of the day itself is neither here nor there; it’s the cumulative weeks, months and years that make a difference, often so incrementally as to be unnoticeable.
If anything, I’ve decided, 40 is a great age to be. As a friend said, you’re done with being old for your 30s and can start again at the beginning of a new decade, younger and more vigorous than all those getting to the end of their 40s or even entering their 50s.
As the cliche has it, you’re only as old as you feel. Age is a state of mind.
Naturally, one does have intimations of mortality in a way that you don’t when you’re 20. It hasn’t escaped my attention that Gerry Rafferty died aged 63, Andrew Gold died aged 59 and my own mother was just 60 when she died. None of us know what the future holds or, as my grandma once put it, “how long we’ve got” but 20 years left on the scorecard is a bit more galling than 40.
Then again, does it matter? Does it matter that someone dies at 59 or 60 if their best work is behind them, they’ve lived well and loved long? At this age I feel it really doesn’t matter. I have had a strong sense of seizing the day for several years now and am lucky that my life isn’t too full of stress but that’s been a personal choice. I urge others to aim for life in their days as well as days in their life. In the passage of time even Gerry Rafferty and Andrew Gold will barely register as blips in the human chapter of the universe’s story. I’d say the same about Mozart. An individual’s greatest impact is on immediate friends and family and who can say they are truly influenced by a great-grandfather or great-grandmother? Even personal influence extends only a few generations.
So here’s to the present and to modest aspirations for a good life. Although if there is another 20-something Andrew Gold out there waiting to be famous I’ll dance to his music.