Web search anything to do with the gaining of years, passage of time and getting older in general and there is an abundance of intelligent, amusing or depressing quotes which you seek to explain the phenomena of ageing. You can manipulate the vast majority to suit your whim and fancy but they all boil down to the same thing – you can’t do a damn thing about it!
I have never been one for concerning myself overly about age, I fit into the ‘but-a-number’ category. But there has been something about hitting a significant milestone that brings out the worst in other people. No matter how little ticking from my twenties, into my thirties fazes me, it seems a source of fear and anxiety for others.
Obviously not from those already there, notably my mother who loaded me down like buckaroo with badges, novelty glasses, sashes and all manner of kitsch to ensure no-one was in any doubt. But those who cling to 20’s as ‘yoof’ and anything above as a fate worse than death, the curious ‘3-0’ seems to send them into a panicked frenzy.
Life questions which were not deemed pertinent for the whole 365 days of 29 have been fired at me with astonishing regularity and I am starting to think I’ve missed something genuinely worrying that I have failed to consider and certainly not planned for.
I had the luxury of celebrating amidst the buzz of downtown Sydney. There is something about the Antipodean attitude that perhaps rubbed off on me, halting any potential panic about my diminishing youth.
‘No worries’ is not a lazy, flippant two-word generality but a genuine state of national being. I mean, there are worries in Australia but they are seldom dwelled on and rarely voiced.
Uptight Australians is an oxymoron. Worries are destined for the bottom of the Paramatta River as it winds its way under the iconic Harbour Bridge, past the Opera House and out of the city taking all levels of city stresses with it.
It’s very difficult to get worked up about having a birthday when you are surrounded by people who are mostly just happy to survive. Encircled by a dizzying array of creatures who can inflict a fatal blow at literally anytime creates a certain ambivalence to the rest of life’s concerns. So accustomed they are to being potentially killed on a daily basis, simply making it to the end of a day is worthy of great celebration. Which I embraced, with authentic Australian grub – a Chinese banquet – in my defence it was washed down with a fair amount of local wine.
I dragged myself the following morning into a stinger suit (pesky deadly jellyfish are everywhere) and forayed atop (...okay, near) a surf board in the churning Pacific waves. If there is anything that is going to make slightly older bones ache and you feel worse about your degrading body, it is two hours of surfing with a hangover. Exhausted but triumphant, I flopped onto the beautiful deserted beach, under the warm morning sun and embraced the national sentiment – no worries.