Later this year I will be turning forty. FOOOOR-TEEEE. When I think about the number, yea, I thinketh it in full caps.
I am as surprised as anyone that I have managed to make it this far but put it mostly down to a diet high in potatoes and a strong aversion to most kinds of sports or other daredevil activities (and I never, ever eat seafood at a buffet restaurant.)
Like most people, I struggled, as a callow youth, to imagine myself at this age. It was like trying to see something in infrared. My "imagination spectrum" just was not up to the task. What was forty? Surely not something I need worry about. Let's just have another Vodka Redbull and... ooooh, I love this song!
And so, for a really long time, thinking about forty was a very, very easy thing to avoid doing.
But I've decided that in order to not freak out royally at the end of the year when the great date arrives, that I should probably start thinking about it a bit. Gently acclimatise myself to middle age, as it were. I can be cool with this.
Because getting older isn't all bad. I've learned a lot of stuff from all the being alive I've done since the days of Vodka RedBull avoidance strategies.
Speaking of which, back in the late nineties Everbody's free (to wear sunscreen) was a popular song/spoken word track which featured a lot of truly useful advice. I can't pretend to be as sensitive or sensible as Mary Schmich (the woman who wrote it), but I have small pearls of wisdom too, that may be worth something.
- Avoid buffet restaurants when you can but especially the seafood bar
- No Vodka RedBulls (or other guarana drinks) after 2am. Unless you like lying awake with the spins.
- Never ask someone about their pimple, or any other skin complaint. Your interest is not desired, nor is it kind to enquire.
- Someone, somewhere really hates your guts for no good reason. You can't do anything about it so don't bother worrying about it.
- Someone, somewhere really fancies you. They might never tell you about it, but if they do, try to be gracious.
- Buy and use the Kiwi stamps... they keep their value. Once upon a time postage hardly ever rose in price, now it happens all the time.
- If you're eligible to vote, then do so. Ditto, blood donation.
- Your bike has already been stolen. It'll hurt less when it happens if you accept that bikes, like ballpoint pens, come and go.
- A great many unpleasant things are said and done in a state of hangriness. Keep a snackbar or some fruit in your bag.
- You don't know what you can do until you're there and you have to do it. This applies to experiences as diverse as earthquakes, parenthood and public speaking. You can do it!
- If you want to donate your organs after you die make sure your family knows about that now. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow.
- Look both ways before crossing the street. Look for cyclists and pedestrians as well as buses.
- It's okay to hunker down and eat a whole tub of ice cream, or a packet of timtams when things get rough. But not often.
- You are the only person who cares about your bad hair day.
- It's okay to read the comments. It's also entirely okay to STOP reading the comments.
- Only brush the teeth you want to keep.
- Pay people compliments. It makes them feel good. It makes you feel good too.
- Always know where your passport is.
So, what advice would you give to yourself from twenty years ago (assuming that you existed then)?