I’m 45. This is so much bigger (by that I mean older) than the traditional landmark of 40. Then, I had a decade stretching out before me; a decade in which I would finally come into my own. But now, I’m careering towards 50.
Normally I don’t think age is important; it’s stage not age. Mostly, I’m optimistic and content, though God knows why, as I’ve neglected to get married, avoided procreating, and totally failed to make any money.
But turning 45 has made me stop and ask myself some questions. When did I last learn something new? Does Sudoku count? Am I doing enough? No. I’ve always secretly admired celebrities trailed by cameras for reality shows because they’re so busy. Not for them slumping on the sofa for hours at a time, tweezing rogue hairs, compiling the definitive wish list at net-a-porter and leaving it too late (again) to go to the gym.
So I’ve set myself a challenge. I will accomplish 45 things while I’m 45. I won’t be ‘clearing out the clutter’; I was de-friending people way before Facebook suggested it, and I like my set-up. And it’s not about ‘the journey’, though that will inevitably be a part of this.
Still, coming up with my year-long task marked my creative limit, so I’ve asked a random selection of people to suggest something for me. I assumed most would say ‘emigrate’ but they’ve come up trumps.
I’ve asked everyone from my twelve year old nephew Milo, to Elizabeth who is 85 and worked on Colossus, cracking German codes at Bletchley Park, to my only godson, Sonny, who is fifteen, and already one of the most accomplished people I know. I’ve asked lifelong friends, first-name-only friends, bosses, colleagues, frenemies, secret crushes and more.
It’s quite an undertaking. I’m a quitter; I never finish (and barely start) anything. Things I’ve recently quit include an MSc in psychodynamic counselling, the gym, the Dukan diet, and further back, two fiancés. I’m not much for commitment either; I had to think twice before committing to 20 episodes of ‘The Killing’.
The list isn’t finished; I’m open to suggestions and I’ll detail my attempts to complete my task every week here. Some of the suggestions are about as appealing as seeing how hamburgers are made; I’m going to be challenged on a mental, physical, even follicle, level. Amongst other things, I’ll be wing-walking, acquiring a celebrity friend, asking for forgiveness (probably from the celebrity), having a Brazilian (wax not man), doing an anonymous good deed, cruising Paris in a convertible, paragliding over the Alps, fire-walking, going to a nudist camp (post Brazilian wax), and learning French. And there is the one that, if I manage it, will be the realisation of a childhood dream. But never mind that, because my first task is to learn a circus trick.