Sunday October 21, 2012
Second half of your life can be better than the first
By Soo Ewe Jin
THE young man at the roadside stall called out to me, “Uncle, uncle, your change”. Sigh. One can feel forever young, but one certainly cannot hold back the reality of physical aging.
Often, when I am called upon to speak at a forum or some college gathering, I would preface my presentation with a line that goes something like this, “I am glad that all of you in this room are young enough to call me Uncle.”
I celebrated my birthday last month, and at one of the little parties among close friends, we sang that perennial Cliff Richard favourite The Young Ones.
Yes, those of us from the generation known as the baby boomers just love this number, don’t we?
As the editor in me would put it: The Young Once forever singing The Young Ones.
But everything in life is relative. To the octogenarians who may no longer be able to keep up in the fast lane on our highways, I am still very young.
At a lunch last week, one feisty lady who is doing great work in the cancer awareness arena added three years when she guessed my age, and apologised profusely after that.
But it’s okay. In fact, a book given to me last week is also a reminder about getting old.
Bob Buford’s bestselling book, Half Time, is timely because it is premised on the fact that the second half of life can be better than the first.
Much better, says the author, if you can figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life.
So what is half time all about? When we watch a football match, we are always amazed when a team floundering in the first 45 minutes, three goals down, can come back in, refreshed, and score four goals to win the game.
And the commentator will of course go on about what the manager must have said in the dressing room to get the team going.
In our own half time, we need to pause and look at what we have been through in the first half of our life.
The list may not be the same for everyone, but is your list populated mainly by a string of achievements?
The number of As you scored, the speed at which you were able to move from a humble abode to a massive bungalow, or the number of VIPs on your invitation list for your son’s wedding?
Is your success defined only by material gain?
Or are you able to look back and mark out significant milestones that have very little to do with position, power and money?
And what are your plans for the next half of your life?
If success, as defined by the world, has eluded you or make you even more stressed out, would it not make better sense to turn your life around?
I notice that this book is normally given to people my age, but it could well be read by those who are about to start out in their professional working lives.
It is good to know ahead that some things we spend much time on in the first half of life may eventually turn out to be totally meaningless.
> Deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin thanks his dear wife for the birthday gift which included this lovely line from the Robert Browning poem, “Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.”