Thursday, October 29, 2009

Facing The New Forty

Many years ago I read a poem called “Facing 40 Without Fear.” I was in my 20’s at the time and had just lived through a generation of Pop Culture telling me “I hope I die before I get old” (Roger Daltrey), and “Never trust anyone over 30.”

The poem was progressive and optimistic and offered some hope. I thought about this last week when I turned 60.

I checked out of my life for a couple of days and headed off to Grasmere and the comfort of my Lancaster home where it all began.

I spent two days thinking about growing up in Lancashire, friends I had then, the relationships that have lasted a lifetime, and remembered how great it was to be part of the 60’s revolution in the UK. Truly we felt nothing was impossible; a recurrent theme which has been the foundation of Saatchi & Saatchi since its inception. A classic case of work life integration.

There was only one place to be on my 60th birthday. I went into Lancaster and pounded the old streets for a while checking out my birthplace, primary school, and childhood neighborhood. A lot of people have been reassuring me that 60 is the new 40. They might be right. As Bob Dylan said, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”

Returning to a rainy but comforting Grasmere the afternoon of my birthday, I opened a bottle of 2000 Haut Brion, looked around at the photos of my heroes of the era, and slowly opened the presents piled up in my study. I was overwhelmed by the cards, emails, texts, phone calls, and gifts I received from friends and family.

There were two common themes running through every message; the 60’s and Love.

I guess these milestone birthdays are times when everyone reflects on what was and what will be. What was heightened when I opened up a large container which turned out to be a beautiful Perspex box covered in original 60’s music and scenes, and recordings of many friends reflecting on moments we shared in the 60’s (including two great LRGS teachers, Doug Cameron and Peter Sampson. Who said teachers have no soul!). Following then was over an hour’s worth of classic 60’s music video clips from Ready Steady Go, Top of the Pops, and other US and UK sources. The music is still great. The fashions are still liberating and fun. The production values are a sight for sore eyes!

Thanks to my friends and family I was reminded of this great period of creativity and freedom and was reassured by all of them that “All you need is love.” Not bad.

I’m facing the new 40 without fear.