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On Turning 45

by Craig Dearden-Phillips 29/07/2014

Tomorrow I am 45 year of age.  Half-way through my fifth decade.   Probably half-way through my life.  Assuming I live to 85, I now have 14,600 days left.   Not that many actually.

 45 is, I think, the new 40.   I found 40 quite painless.  Certainly not the start of middle-age.   It didn't feel like half-time and the early 40s felt like a sneaky extension of the 30s.

But 45 is different.  It's definitely second-half.   A few subtle changes kick in, both physically and psychologically.   While I am pretty fit and sporty,  I notice my efforts are now all about maintenance not improvement.  Mentally, I feel I have moved over the brow of the hill and can see a dark speck on the horizon. 

The upside is a determination not to waste time and to focus on what really matters.  The downside is a feeling that it's a gentle meander down from here, hopefully without too much trauma.

Yesterday I read about a lecture at top US university about GNP vs Gross National Happiness.  Attended mainly by young academics, the group was joined by an older guy, obviously from a working class background.  After the discussion he made the point that money had absolutely nothing to do at all with happiness.   Rather, he said, happiness consists of good health, meaningful work and love in your life.    Money was, beyond a basic level, not a factor, so why be discussing them as a trade-off.   He made the academics look a bit daft.

However, money is something you find yourself thinking about more as you get older, especially if you have kids.   More people my age worry about money far more than they admit.   Without care, it can turn into an objective in itself.   However, this is foolish as money cannot be used most of the time, it is an abstraction, really.   Its only use, beyond the immediate satisfaction of needs and desires,  is to create life choices and to invest in the growth of others. 

Had I a large wealth-pot, the chances are I would be investing it in stuff I felt was making a difference.  I would also use it to expand my learning and horizons, the scope of my useful presence beyond my rather small UK world.

But the old man was right.  Real wealth is health, good occupation and love.  And time, of course.  Few people would trade any of these, even in small measure for millions more in wealth.  The now dead multimillionaire Felix Dennis said, aged about 65, that he would give away every penny to be 30 again, and start again with nothing.  I  feel deeply grateful for the years I have left and wouldn't trade any of them, were such a strange transaction possible. 

So being 45 tomorrow is actually, of course, OK.  Happy Birthday me. 

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