The Guardian had an article recently which basically asked people whether they thought they were middle-aged or not. This caused a debate in our house because I do think of myself as middle-aged whilst my wife, who is actually slightly older than me, does not. So how to define middle age. If we take the biblical three-score years and ten then the middle of your life would be at thirty-five years. If we divide our life up into three segments, young, middle-aged, and old the we see that you would be young from birth to twenty-four, middle-aged from twenty-four to forty-six and old from then until you pop your clogs. This won’t do as a definition, because that makes me old, and I’m not old, I’m middle-aged.
Even if we use modern life spans of say ninety years, it still wont do, because that will make me old in four years time, and I have no intention of being old in 2015. So I propose the following; you are a child/young adult till you leave school, you are officially young till you reach forty, the you become middle-aged until you are seventy, and after that you are old. Either that or you are middle-aged if you feel middle-aged.
Officially admitting you are middle-aged releases you from all sorts of burdens that the young suffer from. You no longer have to follow the trends of fashion. If you find that a jumper and a pair of jeans is what you are comfortable in, then when the ones you have been wearing for the past five years wear out, the all you need to do is buy replacements, as similar as possible to the ones you (or more likely your partner) have just thrown out. The freedom from the strictures of fashion also mean that you are free to buy a pair of jeans from a shops ‘value’ range at £9.99 rather than paying through the nose for a designer label.
As a good Trade Union member, I am concerned about the conditions that the workers in third world clothing factories are forced to work under. I also think that in general we pay far too little for the clothing we buy. However when I see that a shop’s value range jeans at £9.99 per pair and the same shop’s designer range at £59.99 per pair are made in the same country, and possibly the same factory, I think I am entitled to assume the £50.00 difference in price is not going to the seamstress in Bangladesh.
Back to the joys of middle age. If you have accepted that you are middle-aged, you have probably also accepted the life that you have. Your mortgage is either paid off or as good as. You have probably decided that you are reasonably competent at your job, but feel no great desire or need to constantly prove yourself or to push for promotion. No you are happy to continue doing a fair day’s work for a fair day’s money, without over extending yourself, for the next ten or so years until you retire. If you are still young, this seems like a recipe for boredom, if you are middle-aged it is a recipe for contentment.