Saturday, January 30, 2010

Middle-Aged: A Glass Half Full

I was talking to a friend on my recent 38th birthday and he made a joke that I should watch out because I'm almost "middle-aged." It was an off-hand quip – a friendly little jab from a guy who’s been there – but it got me thinking.

As men in this country, we’re trained from early on to see middle-age as a harbinger of doom, the first step to the grave. We fear it, deny it, lie about it and try to run from it. And when it does inevitably arrive we go overboard to prove that it only applies to us as a technicality. And to prove it, we go out and buy the sports car and/or marry the hot 20-year old that we wanted when we were young and virile and, well, not middle-aged.

But what I got to wondering is… why? Why does being middle-aged have such a negative connotation? Couldn’t it actually be – gasp – a good thing? Now, some might say I just don’t get it – that I'm still a couple years away from what most people consider middle-aged. However, statistically, the average life expectancy for a man in the US is 76, and I am now SMACK in the middle of that, so...

Does this mean I should bust into my 401k for that Aston Martin to replace my trusty Subaru or some hot young bimbo to replace my beloved wife? Why in hell would I want to do something so monumentally stupid? Besides the fact that both are simply WAY too much maintenance, I'm quite fond of my trusty Subaru and wholly, deeply in LOVE with my beloved (and hot, if I do say so myself) wife.

In simpler terms, I live a good life and have lived a good life. Sure, I've made some mistakes, I have some regrets and wish some things had turned out differently, but overall I like the life I've lived so far, and the prospect that I have the opportunity to essentially live this life all over again seems to me like something to look forward to, not shrink from. Even if I don't outlive expectations, I'm only half finished! And to top it all off, I now have the benefit of what I've learned from those mistakes, regrets and "if-only"s. Armed with this knowledge I now have the opportunity to make choices that make the next half-life even better, richer and more fulfilling than the first.

What’s not to like about that?

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