Life begins at 40, or so the song goes. And if you're old enough to remember Dave and the Dynamos' (rather painful) 1980s hit, you will have reached its titular milestone, the big four-oh.
In many ways, life does begin at 40. Age brings with it knowledge — a keen sense of who we should avoid, what we shouldn't indulge in, and what makes us happy. These are lessons learned in youth, and they can be painful ones. By the fifth or sixth decade of life, this knowledge has become part of our mental makeup, and there are fewer traps for young players.
I'm not denying that there are challenges to advancing age. You may feel about 28 in your head, but with a body that's crumbling around you, you sure don't look it. Aches, pains, grey hair, wrinkles, looming death and dementia ... this gig's not for the faint of heart.
But it's not good to dwell on such negativity. Here's a brief homage to the great things about getting older; so, sit back, put on your spectacles, and consider the following.
Our musical memories are better
If you're 40-plus, you are lucky enough to have lived through times in which music was fresh and original. Baby Boomers were alive at a time when rock'n'roll was actually invented. Elvis, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones ... the music was pure gold and the vibe was heady. The 1970s brought with it glam, punk and post-punk — some of the most exciting, innovative and inspiring music that's ever been made. Even the '80s had its good moments — early U2, the Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen. The grungy '90s brought with it Nirvana, a band that has no equal in the soulless 2010s. Take your pop pap, youngsters. I'd rather be old and have my memories.
We know how to entertain ourselves without devices
"Digital natives" find it hard to spend five minutes away from their devices. Those of us old enough to remember life before the internet had to find our own ways to entertain ourselves. We would read for hours, go for long walks, play board games or cards, listen to music on vinyl. This means we have inner resources that younger people have had no time to fine tune. We can say "no" to the tyranny of technology, because we can remember life without it and have our own ways of having fun.
We don't fall for the self-improvement shtick
Self-improvement, eh? By our age we've improved as much as we are probably going to. Life's dealt out some hard lessons, and we've come through them, scarred, but (hopefully) still intact. Twenty-somethings are likely to look at trim and tanned Instagram stars for inspiration, but by the time you reach middle age, you see through such superficiality. Six packs and perfectly toned thighs take time and effort; unless you're a gym bunny you have better things to do. You know that appearances can be (and often are) deceiving.
We don't judge so harshly
You've been there and done that and people's peccadillos no longer shock you. How other people look, what they wear, and the decisions they make are their own business. The edges of judgement are softened by years at the coalface (if only because you are so tired that you can't be assed worrying about what other people do). Kindness and empathy are often forged by age; as your body softens so does your attitude to others. Embrace this — it's a beautiful thing to be accepting.
We've seen bad times (and good) come and go
By the time you reach your 40s, you realise that there is a time for everything. Bad leaders will rise and fall, money and success will ebb and flow. Your values and beliefs are still extremely important, but it's easier to realise that everything is transient. The likes of Donald Trump might be abominable, but you've seen his type come and go. Nothing is forever. The perspective of age makes it easier to be philosophical.
Mornings are much easier
Many of us spent our 20s in a state of perpetual partying. By 40, most of us have given up the regular booze-ups and can face the morning with a spring in our steps. No more Berocca-fuelled greasy breakfasts on the way to work; hey, some of us don't need to go to work at all! We can face each new day with freshness and resolve, instead of feeling like something the cat dragged in.
We (might) have more money
It's not the case for everyone, but if you've been blessed with good health and a good job, it's likely that money is no longer a worry. Middle aged and senior people are spending more money than ever on luxuries such as travel — cashed up Baby Boomers in particular have the time and the disposable income to do what they hell they want. Eateries in the inner-city of places such as Auckland are often jammed with older people looking for new and exciting culinary experiences. It's great to be older when you have the money to fill in the time that is increasingly available as we age.
We no longer put up with toxic people
When you're young, it's hard to spot the people who will make your life a misery. Once you're older, you can see them coming a mile off. Your BS radar is finely tuned; shallow flattery and false sincerity don't work on you and you can spot a narcissist a mile off. The journey is far less bumpy once you can spot the human potholes in the road.