Monday, June 04, 2007

Landscapes of the years 

In spite of the title of this blog, I rarely write anything about age and ageing. However, over the years of blogging (nearly four now) I’ve certainly had the occasional whine about work. One of the reasons for this is a pervasive sense of not-fitting-in, and one of the reasons for that is that there are very few people at work to whom I can relate on equal terms.

The decade from age 40 to 50 seems to mark a gradual transition from youth to age. Not yet old age, but definitely no longer young. Somewhere in that decade, a balance tips from one side to the other. In our era of better healthcare and increased longevity, that decade may mark the half-way point in years from cradle to grave, but there’s more to this shift in balance than a simple arithmetic count of years. At 40, it still felt as though the greater part of life was still ahead; there was more to learn than had so far been learned, more to be experienced than has so far been experienced. But somewhere past my 50th birthday, it felt as though the balance had shifted. Even though there is – I hope - still a huge wealth of experience yet to come, overall the weight of that is exceeded by the weight of experience which has already passed. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a complaint or a feeling of waning powers; it’s an observation of where I feel I am on this long road we call Life – conscious perhaps of beginning to count down the years ahead, that the horizon is no longer so far ahead as it was in those days when it was invisible in the distance.

I’ve noticed that I relate much better to those who have passed through that decade and come out the other side, than to those yet to make that transition – for I do believe that for most there is indeed a real transition, a shift in outlook which happens usually between 40 and 50. That decade is like a bridge, linking two subtly different landscapes.

The majority of my work colleagues – and for that matter those who sit above me in the pecking order –still have their balances tipped in favour of the first half of their lives. We get on well together, but we inhabit different landscapes; the bridge for them is still a distance ahead, and if they are aware of the country on its far side, that awareness is only intellectual, certainly not visceral

It may be that this balance, this rocking of the see-saw, has as much to with children growing up as it has to do with passing a particular milestone in the count of years. Certainly, in these last few months our family has passed three significant milestones – the youngest of our three turned 21 last week, the next oldest moved out at the beginning of the year, and the oldest – well, he will be the subject of another post soon.

Either way though, I have a growing consciousness that there is no-one whom I meet regularly who is at a similar stage on this journey. That may account for the sense of isolation which has been growing for quite some time now.

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