The middle aged–that is, those between about thirty five and fifty years old–are afraid of the way old people view the world. They pretend that this view is a criminal ideology for which they have a fine and organised political contempt. They have a duty to root it out. It is an issue. They also pretend that their own faux juvenility (sustained precariously in the face of first the true juvenility then the growing adulthood of their own children) is less an evasion than a special kind of sensibility, one that has to be fought for and that possesses a high political value. What they’ll feel when they come round to old age themselves, I don’t know; one of the great surprises of being old is that whoever you were back then you’ve seen what happens and you couldn’t care less about it any more. That was the discovery you were so determined not to make when you were middle aged. Now you have, you’re stuck with it and it becomes the foundation of your ideological crime. The thing to do is feel no guilt. Life is a series of narratives–all false–learned then unlearned.
Middle age is when you realise the old have all the money and the young have all the fun.
I do not have all the money–neither have I ever had it or even wanted it–but I do have some of the fun.
Middle age is also when far too many people begin to intone “when I am old I shall wear purple,” not as naughty ambition but as a Home Counties gris-gris against it happening at all. Criminal or not, I have no idea what they imagine is looking out of the mirror.
The moment when, instead of fighting against the “couldn’t care less anymore” feeling you embrace it, is wonderfully liberating.