Do you have a burning ambition to climb Machu Picchu? Do you want to start a business from scratch or go to an all-night rave? If the answer to all three is no, then like me you are experiencing midlife inertia.
Age is like a comfort blanket that envelops the mind and body; the consequence is the drive for excellence – or even getting up off the sofa – is no longer important.Credit:iStock
“As soon as you end up in your 50s, a shift happens,” concludes Prof Hermunder Sigmundsson. “In theory, it takes a lot more for us to actually do something.” In other words, we lose our get up and go. At the age of 56, mine has well and truly got up and gone.
The decline in my va-va-voom crept up on me like the lines now etched on my face. Yet the warning signs appeared a few years ago. My friend Marco had asked me to appear at his gallery opening in Sicily (I speak Italian, although any desire to learn more languages has naturally faded). It was to be a glittering spectacle, but all I could think about was the hassle of the flight and the constant glad-handing with people I had no interest in.
To me ageing is not so much about going downhill and decrepitude, more a desire to step away from the busyness. Marie Kondo the house before breakfast? Sorry, no. I’m too busy twiddling my thumbs. I have even grown tired of London (something I thought I would never say) and would much rather lead a quieter life in Surrey. My friend Amanda is on the same page. “Forget accomplishing anything before lunch,” she says. “Often just picking up the towels off the bathroom floor feels like enough.”
We fill our days with a whirlwind of activities and achievements with the illusion that there is a pot of gold at the end of one’s life. There isn’t.
Sometimes I imagine myself achieving. It is then that I tentatively sign up for that cookery course, but I never get round to going. I buy seeds to plant in my very own herb garden, but they’re still on the shelf, unopened. Ditto the anti-ageing unguents and exercise paraphernalia gathering dust.
I am not the only one. My friend Tim, a photographer, has finally given up on the idea of running a marathon. “There was a time around 50 when I desperately wanted to go back to my 35-year-old self. I bought all the gear, went running a couple of times – and now I can’t be bothered,” he admits.
Paradoxically, the general trend in society is that making progress is life-enhancing whether you are 15 or 55. We fill our days with a whirlwind of activities and achievements with the illusion that there is a pot of gold at the end of one’s life. There isn’t.