When I was younger, I wondered whether older men and women viewed fellow 60/70 year-olds as sensationally hot and attractive, just as I viewed a 21-year-old hotty when I was around that age. Does the 70-year-old granny walk past the pub and all the old guys’ heads turn with a cheeky whistle or two? I like to think that I was a bright kid, but I was certainly prone to getting sucked into some ridiculous misconceptions. There were others. I used to think gravy came from graveyards and Vicks Vapor Rub was made by Vicars. It took some time to live those down too.
Age, growing up and getting old is a funny old thing. I spent two weeks in the UK in May, mainly in Leeds doing a coaching course. The early stages of the course are based around youth football. There are certainly important technical lessons that I learned, but the overriding factor for me were the social aspects of coaching, and how you should treat the players. My favourite coaches or teachers were the ones who created the most enjoyable working environment and that got the best out of me - I generally believe that to be the case regardless of whether you’re a 11-year-old kid chasing a ball around a park, or a 40-year-old office worker.
Spending time with my family over those two weeks was a pleasure as always. I get as much satisfaction from spending time with my ridiculously adorable 6-year-old niece Mia and feisty ‘destined-for-the-UFC' nephew Max, as I do with the older folks in the Leeds crew. Time ticks by but the people are the same. I noted another myth while at home when my Mum said that time goes by too fast – the days, weeks and months just fly by….and nothing gets done. Well Mum, time ticks by the same as it always did, there are still sixty seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day. And more importantly, you fill your days, weeks and months constantly. It is far better than sitting at home all day counting the hours. The days go so much slower when you look at the clock, or have nothing to do. Sometimes when I wonder where the time has gone, I think about what I have achieved, places I have been, and people I have seen, and I realise that is where the time went.
During those two weeks in Leeds, the experiences we all have at different stages of our lives, and how we interact with people of different ages was on my mind in a combination of random thoughts. I have heard a few people say that your 30’s are the best years of your life. That may have just been somebody feeling sympathetic towards me when I hit the 30 mark. So, ever the analytical mind, I decided to take a look at the various decades of one’s life and the general characteristics and experiences that you go through to try work out which decade was actually the most enjoyable.
You spend a fair amount of this time having absolutely no idea what you should do, but you just get on with it. You don’t care what others think, you poo and pee all over and start to say things that make older people squirm….somehow you’re still loved and adored by all. You will never learn and absorb as much in a decade as you will in this one.
You still have no idea what you should do, but you know what you do not want to do – and that is more or less anything your parents or teachers want you to do. You care what everybody else thinks, but you don’t want to show it or let people know that you have developed those things called feelings. Somewhere just before the middle of this decade you wake up one morning and realise the same or opposite sex are quite appealing after being in denial for years, but you have no real idea how to deal with that until later in the decade. The decade of ‘trial and error’.
The harsh reality of work has almost certainly kicked in and it is ‘find your way in life’ decade. You realise that having your own money to spend is amazing, but actually, with all the responsibility that goes with it and all the people wanting their share of it, you recognise that being a student was not so bad after all. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to travel, probably to put off the work issue, escape it for a while, or buy some time to work out what you actually want to do for a job. You don’t realise that most other people in life do not love their jobs and have just fallen into something. You just know that you don’t know what it is exactly that you want to do for the next 40 years. Retirement sounds like a distant dream.
The decade of the ‘ticking clock’. If marriage and kids have not happened yet, everybody in your family is likely to be wondering if you are gay or have the cojones to ask the question. There is a different pressure in this decade, and that realisation comes when you find yourself submersed by students in a bar one night, and realise the hotty in the corner has more chance of being your child than your lover. Once you realised that, you can relax, be confident in yourself and get on with enjoying life. You’ve got some great relationships, many of which will be keepers as you realise that if you are friends with people as this point of your life, it is because you want to be friends with them.
The Middle Ages
Another type of pressure in this decade, and that realisation comes when you find yourself submersed by students in a bar one night, and realise the hotty in the corner is your child and there is a smooth guy chatting to her, and he is bigger than you. You are however happier going to the old pub that does not have televisions or music for a good old chat rather than a dance. Everything becomes that fraction bit harder physically, but you are still as sharp mentally. The youngsters of today are keeping you young, if you cannot match them physically any more, you are darn sure you’ll imprint your wisdom on them. You still don’t really know what you want to be when you grow up, but you would like a career change or to work for yourself. You’re at the halfway mark of your working life which is a grim thought. The decade of ‘painful realisations’.
At this point you are counting the days to retirement and thinking about all those amazing trips that you would love to do….and you realise they are pretty similar dreams to those you had when you were a Teen, but children, work, mortgages always got in the way. There is still some time to go however work-wise, but ambitions are a fraction lower, and you are in survival mode in what is possibly the only real time in your life where you are wishing that time went faster. The decade of ‘The Final Countdown’….and if you are that old, you’ll know the song too.
The Sixties et al
All those thoughts and dreams that you have been weighing up in the last decade can now become a reality. Or can they? Income is possibly reduced and you do not have the earning power, and you are reluctant to spend as although you cannot take it with you, you do not want to run out. While you should in fact be selling your house, move into rented accommodation and blow all your savings in a methodical manner, you are thinking of legacy and what you can leave for the kids. The kids who are actually big bad adults themselves now – let them look after you a little now. You have worked for some forty years, and now you should be enjoying life. The decade of ‘Nike – Just Do It’.
The End (of the blog)