Ah, turning 55. It’s a bit of a shock to the system. When I was young, Star Trek used to be compulsory viewing. Who could forget those polystyrene rocks? Or the Tribbles? Or the Enterprise’s frequent point-blank refusal to muster up sufficient warp drive?
I mention this because the Captain’s Log is kind of how I am approaching this column. When you get to 55 and you realise that you have less time to live than you did at 25, somehow ‘Star Date’ seems more appropriate than calendar date. Turning 55 is certainly like entering unchartered space.
It strikes me that I have been lurking behind this blog somewhat. We parenting bloggers are good at that. We will talk endlessly about kids and our interactions with others as a parent but many of us are nervous about divulging our inner core, our heart and soul and our emotional experience of ageing.
When I started to write this blog – and yes, I do subscribe to the ‘blog as therapy’ idea, it was to share just those sorts of feelings.
Take a moment to look around you and ask yourself this question. Where are all the over 50’s? Where can you read about their hopes and dreams?
Isn’t it important to know what these are? Like it or not, the years from 20 to 50 tend to pass in, to refer back to Captain Kirk’s crew, with remarkable warp speed.
Of course, you can’t truly know what it is like to get older until you get older! But it seems to me that the over 50s are not all popping round to next door to promote funeral plans or life insurance.
They are not all slathering themselves in ibuprofen gel and yearning to play bowls.
This was, sadly, the expectation of the over 50s lifestyle for my parents’ generation (both born 1939).
I’ve written before that the beauty industry regularly ignores my generation – despite the fact that we have the most disposable income to splurge on their products.
Things have improved somewhat but there’s still a huge gap between the Mirrens and Fondas and the ‘newbie 50s’ finding their way in a society which is currently mightily confused about what ageing is and what retirement means.
On holiday recently (the night before my 55th birthday in fact), I spotted a banner in the small coastal town we visit which proclaimed that the over 55’s could get an OAP lunch and meet up with other oldies.
The Husband was highly amused that I now qualify but it felt as if the poster was referring to people on another planet. He has another 3 years before turning 55.
The truth of the matter is that what was once considered the ‘gateway to old age’ has now become a bridge to a different sort of life in which there are still huge opportunities, huge challenges and a chance to stick two fingers up at the mediocrity one might have embraced and kick over the traces.
If you are fit enough and have the energy. “Aye”, as Shakespeare’s Hamlet would say, “there’s the rub”. To be, or not to be – ailing, infirm, reduced or vibrant, vital, involved.
I know which I’d choose.