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Davis Journal

There is no ‘perfect’ age, so live yours now

May 06, 2022 11:11AM ● By Bryan Gray

A colleague asked me recently, “If you could go back in time, what age would you wish to be?”

My whimsical answer was 2 years old.  “Everything is new, someone feeds you on schedule, you have no obligation except to look cute, and if you want to get attention all you have to do is cry.”

But a serious answer would be, the perfect age is different for each person and every age has its moments – and pleasures.

In one of her novels, Laura Lippman has her character Maddie, a newspaper reporter, muse despondently: “You get to age 30 and you think you know what 40 will look like, but you really don’t.  Then comes 50 and, boy, does 40 look good.  Now I am 58 and I have no clue what my seventh decade will be, other than disappointing. Because every decade so far has been less than I had hoped.”

I can’t speak for others, but my view has been different than Lippman’s character.  

It is hard to beat the 20s. We still feel young and are optimistic about our futures.  Graduate from college or technical school at age 23 and you figure the world is wide open to you. Marriage, careers, where you choose to live – everything is optional, and, if you make a mistake, you are young enough to correct it.

In your 30s, you are more settled. You have already made choices (though still young enough to change direction) and, if you were like me, your evenings and weekends were soaked up in Little League games and dance/gymnastic recitals.  But other than standing in the rain, shivering while watching an endless soccer match between 6-year-olds, life is pretty good.

In your 40s, you are more stuck than settled.  You are close to being or already are an empty nester, you are somewhat half-way to paying off your house, and you are earning enough money to finance a mid-life crisis dream of owning a Tesla or Corvette. If you have made it this far in a career and a marriage, odds are things won’t change much.  You and your spouse will have enough assets so a divorce might be really messy and expensive, and, as for a career change, by the time you are 48 it’s not a good time to leave your well-paying accounting job to take a fling at being a golf pro.

Your 50s should be a calm time, though you occasionally realize that you are more than halfway to being dead.  You can feel good about yourself and your finances and, in many cases, enjoy the grandchildren without having to be the disciplinarian.  

In your 60s, you can enjoy some of the vacations you put off taking. Life should be serene expect for attending financial seminars on Social Security/retirement and taking your annual physician appointments more seriously.

And when you are 70…Well, be happy you made it and to hell with any regrets.  

Last week I visited Park City for a concert with noted folksinger Dar William.  In one of my personal favorite songs (“After All”), she summed up aging:

“For every price, and every penance I could think of / It’s better to have fallen in love / Than never to have fallen at all. / Because when you live in a world / It gets into who you thought you’d be / And now I laugh at how the world changed me / I think life chose me….After all.”