Embracing the Ageing Process

As I enter the last month of my thirties I’ve noticed more and more signposts flagging the gentle passing of time, signs which have enabled me to approach this forthcoming milestone with grace and ease. Thankfully. Because if you had told me five or ten years ago that I would be cool, calm and collected about turning 40, I probably would have assumed you were mad.

I found myself this morning reading the Sunday papers over coffee, as I have done every Sunday for as long as I can remember, and as I read an interview with Shirley Manson (lead singer of Garbage, one of my favourite bands) I was struck by a particular statement she made about our society’s eternal quest for youth:

I’m realistic enough to understand that it’s impossible to fake youth. Youth belongs to the young. That’s their power. That’s for them and them alone. I think whenever adults try to steal youthful power, it always ends up feeling a little strange. 

– Shirley Manson, 2016

What Shirley said really resonated with me for a number of reasons, yet primarily because I have found myself of late feeling more and more disconnected with pop culture. Now, to set some context, I am someone who has been obsessed with popular culture for most of his life, especially music. I was always able to name any pop song within the first few seconds of hearing it, and I usually knew all of the words as well. Until recently. I’m not sure what the turning point was, but somewhere along the way things changed. Whilst a few years ago I could recite the lyrics to the entire Top 40, I recently discovered that, not only can I no longer do that, but that I have no idea who most of the artists are in the charts nor do I know what their songs are. 

At first that concerned me, so I began playing ‘catch up’ by listening to everything (thanks, Apple Music; best use of $12 a month as far as I’m concerned). I discovered some brilliant artists – Troye Sivan, Disclosure, Broods, Josef Salvat, OLYMPIA, Flume – yet I also discovered, to my horror, a lot of crap. For a while, I tried and tried to push through however my turning point was Rihanna’s ‘Work’. How this managed to reach #1 in America and #5 here in Australia is beyond me, given such meaningful lyrics as:

Work work work work work work

He said me haffi

Work work work work work work

He see me do mi

Dirt dirt dirt dirt dirt dirt

And so me put in

Work work work work work work

– Rihanna – Work, 2016

After that, I decided it was time to stop trying to ‘get’ youth culture and instead to focus on what I enjoy in a more organic sense. Sometimes that involves the odd new song and, to my great surprise, sometimes that involves much older music. Since letting go of my once-compulsive need to stay abreast of pop culture, I’ve found myself quite drawn to music from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s; music which only a decade ago I would never have dreamed of listening to. And to my total surprise, I’ve discovered I have a bit of a thing for classical music (although I must admit that I find that interest harder to cultivate since Shazam rarely identifies classical music, so I’ll hear a great piece yet have no idea how to find it again).

The very idea of listening to classical in lieu of pop music would have horrified my younger self, and that’s okay. Because, quite frankly, it turns out that my younger self didn’t know as much about the world as he thought he did. Back then, I was more focused on what others thought of me than I was on discovering what I thought of myself, let alone on exploring how I could develop and grow as a human being. 

As I prepare myself to turn 40 next month, I say farewell to my first four decades of life and thank them for the lessons I have learned along the way. I am thankful for all of my life experiences because they have brought me to where I am today, brimming with optimism for a present lived with happiness and a future full of possibilities. I say thanks to my youth for everything it taught me and I stand, with eyes forward, ready to embrace the next stage of my life.

And besides, you’re only as old as you feel – so provided I stay away from pop culture and interacting with 17 year olds who now look to me as though they’re 12, I should be perfectly fine.

Jeremy

My book, Depression? F*** Depression!, is on sale in eBook format on Apple iBooks and Amazon Kindle. Featuring 260 pages of practical advice about understanding and dealing with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, it’s part memoir and part self-help guide. Grab it on Apple iBooks HERE for only $0.99 (AUD/USD/CAD)/£0.49/€0.99 or on Amazon Kindle HERE for just $0.99 USD/£0.99/€0.99. Also available to buy in print from Amazon and Book Depository.

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