Let’s be clear: I don’t really feel that I’m in competitors with these fellows. I don’t measure my look in opposition to Clooney, or my achievements in opposition to Obama – simply as nicely, of course. Nor do I really feel obliged to put my musical skills up in opposition to Boy George, Billy Ray Cyrus or Axl Rose, tackle Tom Ford in the sartorial stakes, or audition in opposition to actors Tim Roth, Tom Cruise, Woody Harrelson and Matthew Broderick, all, like me, 60 this year. I’m not in the similar league as this lot, have by no means aimed to be and it doesn’t hassle me that I by no means might be.
What offers me pause for thought is the many totally different varieties of man that one could be at 60 – and that’s earlier than additionally contemplating the unfamous folks who, by definition, don’t determine in any listing of celeb 60-year-olds.
There are a lot of us about. More than ever, the truth is. Through the latter half of the twentieth century, the inhabitants of the UK has been steadily getting older, and the child boomers and their elders (individuals of 60 and over) now make up greater than 20 per cent of the inhabitants – a highly effective and comparatively rich cohort that’s nonetheless changing into bigger, as a phase of the complete inhabitants, each year. We are quite a few, diverse and versatile.
I’m positive this wasn’t all the time the case. My father turned 60 after I was at college in the Nineteen Eighties. He had simply retired from his important career however, unusually for his era, went on to work as a freelancer for one more 25 years. It was rather more in character for his contemporaries to deal with 60 as the signpost for the sidelines – time to slip on the Hush Puppies or the golf footwear, mild up a pipe of Old Holborn and pop that Val Doonican album on the hi-fi.
Sixty is totally different now. It’s true that I’ve buddies who’ve retired to domesticate their gardens, discover historic buildings or work on their French. But many others are extremely, if not all the time correctly, lively: chasing one more million – or one other spouse – or chasing their new toddlers round a playground.
Still others are locked in dogged pursuit of new ambitions and new milestones: one other mountain to climb, route to cycle, tech innovation to be mastered. And there are one or two who’ve succumbed alongside the means to drink and medication, divorce, regret and monetary chaos.
Some of us – not all, clearly – have realized the Dos and Don’ts of late center age male life, which principally revolve round wardrobe… and how to reply to different individuals’s wardrobes. Twenty-something buddies of offspring in skimpy outfits? Don’t gawp. Don’t remark. Creepy previous man has by no means been a gorgeous life-style alternative, and if creepy behaviour is much less acceptable now than ever earlier than, that’s actually no dangerous factor.
So… the place am I in all of this? And how do I measure up? We’ll maintain this brisk, to keep away from any trace of smugness or suggestion of group remedy. I’m wholesome, solvent, in full-time employment, fortunately married and contentedly housed. I’ve grown-up youngsters who not solely love but additionally, I believe, like me (and I them, of course).
For all of this I’m appropriately, however not loudly, grateful. Is it sufficient? Do I really feel profitable? Happy? Fulfilled? Do I really feel, crucially, that past the age of 60 there are good issues but to come? Have I, not to put too nice level on it, peaked?
Probably. I’m not going to develop into a CEO – or any sort of O, come to that. I’m unlikely to write the Great Novel or to develop into considerably richer or fitter. And I don’t count on, or need, dramatic romantic adventures with a new love.
I’m not ruling something out – that may be too miserable. I’ll be blissful to attempt new pastimes, go to new locations and purchase new abilities. But it’s clear, nonetheless, that in many methods that is nearly as good as it’s going to get. And that’s OK.
The path this far has not all the time been easy: I wouldn’t need to revisit my stressy, messy 40s. But after lots of cautious thought in my 50s, and conversations with individuals older than me who appear to be contented, it belatedly started to daybreak on me that the means to be blissful, and keep blissful, is to align so far as doable what I would like with what I can get. Even if the relaxation of my life seems to be like what archaeologists typically name “managed decline”, not less than I’m the sort of 60-year-old man that I really want to be.
I’m not having such a wild and loopy time as I used to be after I was 20, however I understand how daft I’d be to attempt. And I’m a nice deal happier, more healthy and much less financially frazzled than I used to be after I was 40, largely as a result of I’m no longer attempting to be what I’m not.
As a lucky 60-year-old man, life is what I make of it, and if I can keep away from making an fool of myself in the course of, that may do properly.