Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Midlife: the best of all possible ages?

The other day a friend of mine, who is 45, was offended when someone referred to her as middle aged.

This seems odd, since female life expectancy in America is now approximately 81. Or since a woman who has reached the age of 45 can expect to live another 40 years. Or since the ages at which an American is most likely to be employed are between 20 and 61. By all numeric indicators, my friend is clearly middle aged.

People used to think middle age began at 40 and ended at 60 or 65. Even they were somewhat optimistic, but not downright silly like folks who now say that 60 or even 70 is the new middle age.

No, 60 or 70 is not middle-aged, unless you think the middle lane on a three-lane road is the one farthest to the left, in which case I'd rather not drive with you.

But why doesn't my friend want to be middle aged?

After all, middle age is when you might be
  • young enough to be beautiful and old enough to have character
  • young enough to stay up late and old enough not to want to
  • young enough to be stylish and old enough to know what suits you
  • young enough to have a bright future and old enough to have solid experience
  • young enough to have energy and old enough to know what to do with it
  • young enough to feel good and old enough to take care of your health
  • young enough to have strong opinions and old enough to know when to express them
  • young enough to start over and old enough to put down roots
  • young enough to protest and old enough to govern
  • young enough to have living parents and old enough to appreciate them
  • young enough to be smart and old enough to be wise
Oddly, I don't know anyone past 40 who wishes to relive their youth, nor do I know anyone of any age who longs to be old (despite recent research indicating that the older we get, the happier we are). 

Apparently most of us prefer middle age--as long as we can call it something else.

3 comments:

Unknown said...

I AM . 83 YRS. OLD AND THANKFUL TIO GOD FOR ALL THE RICH EXPERIENCES I HAVE HAD, PEOPLE AND PLACES, FAMILY, AND THE DELIGHT OF GRANDKIDS!! MIDDLE AGE IS A STEPPING STONE TO ALL OF THAT.
mmd

Patricia Fulda said...

Lovely post! What you've written definitely matches my experience.

Tuesdays in the Tallgrass said...

The 50s are awesome! Thank you for the post -- good reminder to be grateful for whatever age we find ourselves.