I have a theory that I’ve been explaining to people at parties over the years that usually earns itself equal parts agreement and laughter. It has to do with how we assess the world around us as we age.
I think it’s fair to say that until we’ve had 30 years on Mother Earth, we don’t have much understanding of how the world works. Not to mention, we all know plenty of adults in middle age who generally seem to have never paid attention in the first place. My point being, that its not until we reach our mid-30s that we’ve gathered enough data on our ourselves and our environment to be able to primitively assess how our lives have unfolded. No longer are we making most decision as we go, grasping at ideas (and sexual partners) without much awareness of their consequences. Around 35 we finally have enough experience to be able to look back in our life journey’s rearview mirror and ask… How the fuck did I end up here?
Before I dive any further, I understand I’m talking about those of us in the upper 5% (less?) of humanity with the privilege of education, no threat of war or famine, and the sheer luxury of being able to sit still for a minute and donate some presence of thought to who we are, where we’ve come from, and ultimately, where we’re going. With that said, this type of performance review, isn’t for the faint of heart. Most people don’t sit down to review their young life and think, “Wow, I crushed this!” Because life is complex and all of us have regrets. Yes, you can still love your family and regret not having started it earlier/later. It’s our complexity that makes us human. But even those of us with few or zero (liars!) regrets, likely wish they took more risks in life. Basically, I’d bet those people regret not having more things to regret. Ok I agree, too meta. Moving on…
Let’s take relationships for example: Recent statistics show that your 40s are the decade most married couples call it quits. I’d argue the seeds for this monumental life change were planted in their 30s. They hit their Rearview 35, the cracks of their discontent begin to show, and either those cracks are patched up or the great unraveling begins. You’ve seen the FB status updates, you know what I mean.
“God only gives you what you can handle!”
I gotta live my truth!
And my personal favourite, “Everything happens for a reason!”
If you see any of these updates on a close friend’s profile, maybe check in with them to see what’s up. Chances are, a great unraveling has begun and they need a friend.
One of the most frustrating parts of living this life, is that there’s such an abundance of information that it’s impossible for us to know it all. Mistakes are inevitable. If you’ve spent your first 35 years studying social science, you now have all the natural sciences to contend with, and vice versa. Even more of a handicap is if you grew up very religious. Good luck seeing what human life is all about with the God-Goggles on. That’s like trying to drive with a blindfold. Faith and action can only take you so far.
Below is an except from a recent chat with an Engineer friend of mine regarding the general ignorance of human beings. Needless to say, I was disturbed by his revelation.
The moral of this story is that none of us should assume we know everything, or anything! As we grow our perspective and knowledge after our Rearview 35 it’s important to keep an open mind about ourselves, others, and our surroundings. Nobody should aim to turn 50 and not understand the generations which preceded us and that only happens when we think we’re done learning. Stay open and stay curious so hopefully when Rearview 65 comes along, there will be less surprises and significantly less to unravel. Good luck.