From Where I Sit – Attitude is Everything

?Some people turn back their odometers. Not me. I want people to know why I look this way. I’ve travelled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.? So goes this anonymous bit in an email I received called Great Thoughts.

?Life begins to suck at 40,” reads the huge headline in the January 30 issue of the National Post.

?I need to open my mid-life crisis bank account,? says the spouse of a bank manager.

Do you see a pattern developing here? Articles, cartoons, and jokes about aging are de rigueur, especially as the first wave of boomers retires. And whether you laugh out loud, nod in recognition, smile weakly, or wonder what it all means is largely dependent on your age. Let’s take a closer look at each of these comments.

I think Miss Clairol, Botox, and plastic surgery constitute turning back the odometer. Maybe the writer was referring to physical appearance only. But I like to think about the inner growth and awareness that come from navigating those unpaved roads. Were the rough roads illness, divorce, bankruptcy? How well are each of us negotiating the potholes, loose gravel, and narrow shoulders on our own roads?

The National Post article points out that a mere 50 years ago the average person was too busy ?with everyday survival to indulge in questions about whether their lives were meaningful enough.? To say we’ve become more introspective is an understatement. Navel-gazing has become an Olympic event. Hell, even our dogs have shrinks.

The gist of the article is that regardless of where in the world you live studies show happiness ?dips when people hit mid-life.? Two million people in 72 countries were studied for decades. Results are consistent regardless of ?gender, education, marital status, children, occupation, and income.?

We are reassured to read that, barring an accumulation of bad stuff like severe ill health, happiness improves and one can end their lives as happy as, or happier than, they were in their twenties. How well we live those years is still largely our own making.

Maybe the ability to bankroll the mid-life years makes a difference. The spouse of a bank manager needs the mid-life crisis account for the same reason we all need an account That’s solely our own, away from the prying eyes of a spouse.

We all need to have a stash of money that is totally within our own control to be spent at our own discretion. Money we don’t need to answer for to anyone. My account is smaller than Janet Gretzky’s. When Janet was betting on sporting events, even Wayne didn’t know. That’s freedom.

While there’s comfort in knowing that, around the world, we’re all in the same boat, we still remain in charge of our lives, day in and day out, year in and year out. Older people say any day above ground is a good day. Attitude is everything, from where I sit.