The Pleasures of Middle Age

Youth and middle age.

In some lives middle age is far happier than youth, with its tumults, its restlessness, its perpetual effervescence, its endless emotions. Youth looked back upon from the vantage ground of middle age is as a railway journey compared with a summer day’s boating on a broad, calm river. There was more excitement and enjoyment attached to the railway journey, but the serene and peaceful quiet of the pleasant drifting and the gentle rowing are by no means to be despised.

Crossing the half-way ground.

When youth first departs a poignant regret is felt. So much that is delightful goes with it, especially for a woman. About thirty years of age, an unmarried woman feels that she has outlived her social raison d’étre, and the feeling is a bitter one, bringing with it almost a sense of shame, even guilt. But ten years later, this, in its turn, has passed, and a fresh phase of experience is entered on. One has become hardened to the gradual waning of youth, and the loss of whatever meed of attractiveness may have accompanied it. New interests spring up, especially for the married woman, with home and husband and children. The girls are marrying and settling down in their new homes, and the sons are taking to themselves wives, or establishing themselves in bachelor quarters, where they may live their own lives according to their own plan.

The period of adjustment.

The loss of the young ones is acutely felt at first, but after a while the fresh voices and gay laughter are less missed in the home, and the sense of loneliness begins to pass away. The sons who called or wrote so frequently at first, missing the father’s companionship and the mother’s tenderness, begin to fall off a little in their attentions, and are sometimes not seen for weeks at a time. The daughters become more and more absorbed in their own home lives, and though they seldom fall off in duty to the father and mother as sons do, their heart is less and less in the matter. It is inevitable! There is sadness in it, but no deep grief, as a rule. As the ties slacken, one by one, to be only now and then pulled taut, when occasion for sympathy in joy or sorrow arises, the process is so gradual and so natural that it is robbed of suffering. And as one of Nature’s decrees is that which causes us to adjust ourselves to altered surroundings after change or loss, we accept the altered circumstances, and allow our thoughts and feelings to grow round what is left to us.

The aftermath.


And then comes a strange and beautiful aftermath, when there is a harvest of intellectual pleasures and the revival of a joy in life. Many and many a project, formed in younger days, but forgotten or submerged in the fulness of existence during intermediate years, is carried out during this late Indian summer, when health and spirits, energy and capacity, seemed to have renewed themselves like the eagle. Music, long neglected, begins again to play a happy part in the lives of some. In others, the brush is taken up after long years of abstinence, and the alchemy of art transforms into beautiful fruitfulness what else might have been a barren desert, now blossoming like a rose; or, journeys into far lands, longed for all through life, are at last undertaken, with an eagerness of delighted anticipation that would not disgrace youth itself. This wonderful world is explored with keenest curiosity, with results of strange and unexpected enrichment of heart and brain. Is it not true that the more we see of human nature the more lovable we find it? Contrast the broad views and generous charity of those who have travelled far and wide with the censorious and critical attitude of the women who measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves. A wider outlook and a broader grasp of circumstances are among the consequences of living a fuller life.

Insular natures.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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