Cha Cha Cha Changes. By Emily Smart
It’s a funny thing turning forty. Not funny ha ha, or even peculiar, more bloody annoying than funny actually. I remember when I was kid and my parents hit the big 40. In my mind they may just as well have turned seventy. I have been in my forties now for a while and I am starting to realise just why people have a ‘mid-life crisis’ or look at things differently when they say goodbye to their thirties. They are probably about half way through their life, for a start, and the possibilities for outstanding achievement are diminishing by the day, if not the hour. Mortgages, possessions, status anxiety and responsibilities, all mount up like Sugar Loaf Mountain and make the possibility for career change, extended travel or just plain fun, a thing of the distant past. My friend and co-blogger tells me that life actually starts to get better again when you hit your sixties. Christ Almighty, don’t tell me I’ve got twenty years of misery to get through before I finally approach nirvana.
What brought all this to my attention this week was an email I received from a friend which had a joke about menopausal women, aimed at menopausal women and supposedly hilarious for women going through ‘the change.’ I am not going through the menopause; I’m afraid the bad moods, erratic behaviour and shop lifting are just part and parcel of who I am. I didn’t use to get sent jokes about women having hot flushes. What next? A mailer through the door from Tena Lady? Laugh, I really might just piss my pants. And just why is all this so funny, I ask myself. Don’t the young who giggle at these signs of aging realise that they are heading in exactly the same direction?
So, at the ripe old age of forty something, it has come to my attention that I may not live forever. In fact, mortality has been playing on my mind a lot lately. My main worry has been centred around my legacy. Quite an unusual word and one I happened to come across while working with a charity client. It’s one of those fashionable buzzwords that seem to crop up everywhere, especially where the recent Olympics are concerned. It’s all about what you leave behind apparently. Not so much the goods and chattels, although clearly the material things have their place, especially when it comes to charity. I mean when I have croaked it, what will I leave behind? Apart from the local bottle shop going into liquidation, what will I have done that has made an impact on the world?
I have started to look at other people’s legacies, in the hope of finding out what a good legacy is. There are so many areas to cover; science, inventions, good works, writers, artists, film makers, teachers. Hundreds maybe even thousands of things. And people, where do I start? Sir Alexander Fleming and Penicillin? Sir Isaac Newton and that famous apple (did he ever eat it I wonder)? Leonardo da Vinci, magnificent all-rounder? William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army? Adolf Hitler and death on an incomprehensible scale throughout Europe? I’ll leave it to you to insert your own list of well-known human beings who have left their vital stamp on the world, in some cases good, in others, really bad.
Where does that leave us mere mortals who will one day only remain in photographs, video clips, diaries, and memories? Well for those of us who have reproduced, one can only hope that our children will be our outstanding legacy. Though looking at mine at the moment, God help you all. Meanwhile, hold off on the menopausal women gags, there’s life in this old girl yet!