I had written a post I’d entitled “Fifty and Fecked”, about how it was hard getting back into employment once you’re into your fifth decade and find yourself out of work. It was a bit of a moan, so I’ve decided I’ll post it if and when I make a real effort – a real effort – to find myself a job. (And only then if I find it actually is quite difficult.)
Instead, I decided to summarise some points from an excellent essay from Garrison Keillor, entitled “Stop Complaining” from a book “50 Things to do When You Turn Fifty”, which is much more positive. Keillor (who’s actually in his Sixties) gives a Moustachian punch in the face to the elderly tendency to moan about almost everything, and recommends some alternative strategies which, I think, are good ones to remember. I also think they apply to almost anyone over twenty, not just those of us thinking about retirement.
- Stop complaining about growing old. Nobody cares. Instead when people ask how you are, say “Absolutely great, Never better.”
- Lose 20 pounds in weight. Eat one meal a day, two snacks. That’s all you need. Have one feast day a week when you eat what you like.
- Give up TV and newspapers for six months or a year and sample an “unmediated life of direct experience”. You might like it.
- Adopt a new dress style, but make it appropriate. No ponytails! Risk being a bit more conventional in a cool way. Stay trim, keep smart.
- Put your past behind you and find something that will absorb you today. Your heart’s desire, not anyone else’s.
- Start telling the truth. Say what you think. Express outrage if necessary. Don’t fear what the Big Cheeses in your life might think. You’re past that.
- Express simple preferences. Don’t want to do dinner Saturday night with those moaners from across the street? Then don’t. Relax with a glass of wine and talk to your loved ones instead.
- Talking of wine, try cutting out the booze for six months, if only to simplify things for a while.
- Fifty is an excellent age for reform.
I really like the sentiments he expresses (apart from cutting out the booze!) Every now and then it’s a good idea for me to turn down the cynicism and sarcasm – much as I enjoy revelling in such an outlook – and turn my attention more to the positive things in life. Inevitably these are the simple things that generally cost little or no money. The moderate life. There’s a lot to be said for it.