I wrote recently about turning 40. And how I enjoy getting older. It got some feedback and ideas going.
Here’s a few more garnered from a New York Times column recently by Pamela Druckerman, an author and a contributing opinion writer. It has the same tone – that reaching “middle age” is mostly about finally arriving. I’ll add some thoughts of my own, to get a conversation going below in the comments…
If you worry less about what people think of you, you can pick up an astonishing amount of information about them. You no longer leave conversations wondering what just happened. Other people’s minds and motives are finally revealed.
Me: True. The conversation in your head as another speaks to you is not of angry defensive angst, but of marvel and objective interest.
Eight hours of continuous, unmedicated sleep is one of life’s great pleasures. Actually, scratch “unmedicated.”
Me: Yep. Whatever gets you through the night has become my mantra. Sleeping tablets are far from ideal. Far. Far. But rest is crucial. You have to get it how you can.
There are no grown-ups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.
Me: I’ve written about this before. Everyone’s a fraud. No one was given the rule book.
There are no soul mates. …In fact, “soul mate” isn’t a pre-existing condition. It’s an earned title. They’re made over time.
Emotional scenes are tiring and pointless. At a wedding many years ago, an older British gentleman who found me sulking in a corner helpfully explained that I was having a G.E.S. — a Ghastly Emotional Scene. In your 40s, these no longer seem necessary. For starters, you’re not invited to weddings anymore. And you and your partner know your ritual arguments so well, you can have them in a tenth of the time.
Me: Not sure. Is this true in your experience?
Forgive your exes, even the awful ones. They were just winging it, too.
When you meet someone extremely charming, be cautious instead of dazzled. By your 40s, you’ve gotten better at spotting narcissists before they ruin your life. You know that “nice” isn’t a sufficient quality for friendship, but it’s a necessary one.
Me: Oh God, do I know this one. I was burnt badly by The Ra Ra man before. I got sucked in by the charm and the buttressing his conviction provided me. But it was like wearing a corset – it held me up for a while and I liked the way I looked, but it was fake and, once removed, it left me very wobbly. I’m so wary of people who do the ra-ra thing now. They fatigue me immediately.
You find your tribe. Jerry Seinfeld said in an interview last year that his favorite part of the Emmy Awards was when the comedy writers went onstage to collect their prize. “You see these gnome-like cretins, just kind of all misshapen. And I go, ‘This is me. This is who I am. That’s my group.’ ” By your 40s, you don’t want to be with the cool people; you want to be with your people.
Me: My tribe has got smaller and smaller and I like it like this. When I wrote about this – the “Dunbar number of friends” – a while back, I didn’t really get it. I hit 40, and finally did.
It’s O.K. if you don’t like jazz.
Me: Thank goodness. I can’t stand brass. Or musicals. But my dial’s permanently switched to Classic FM.