On the beach at Littlehaven, South Shields. June 2024.
On the beach at Littlehaven, South Shields. June 2024.

Into the Sixth Decade

June 2024

Into the Sixth Decade

With a full half-century now behind me, it seems appropriate to mark the moment and look ahead to what remains of the future.

My birthdays always bring with them a twinge of melancholy, and this year has been no different. These past months have been weary to body and soul, stressful for many reasons obvious and private. My hair is greyer (and patchier) now, with very little time spent enjoying music and a little too much spent enabling it. I persist because I must.

It was different a decade ago, as I entered my forties with zeal and vigour. Excited to travel and enthusiastic about infinite possibilities ahead. Through persistence of presence I met a multitude of good people across Europe, making friends moreso than enemies. Many of which still took the time to wish me well today. I am thankful for such kindness in the echo of memory.

I stole a day for myself earlier in the week to return to the homeland, and wandered the way of times before. Where once the malls and promenades of my formative years bustled with vibrancy, now they remain as lifeless, liminal spaces. Forever under grey skies, ghosts to an era that was. Before austerity. Before accusation. A simpler, happier age, perhaps.

It is the nature of Youth to devour the Old. To impose new moral standards on those who wish merely to be. To judge, mock, cajole and condemn that which came before. Tearing down the efforts of those who refuse to kowtow to their fancies, contriving worst-faith allegations to feed their need for an interminable ‘other’. Once-allies purged as irredeemable enemies, leaving little in return than a hollow legacy of heresy and hearsay.

But age brings wisdom, (even if the song suggests otherwise), or at least a sense of inevitable resurgence. Patterns swirl in circular form. Young becomes Old, and another generation rises. Those who had their own formative years stolen for reasons suddenly unclear. Those prevented from questioning their place in the world for the sake of inconvenient answers. Told to step aside by nature of their birthright, they see the self-righteous gluttony of the new morality for what it is, and in turn lick their lips.

I often feel my greatest sin was that I stood by and let the future happen. If I have regrets, it is that I never secured a stake in tomorrow by having children of my own. But I see in this new generation the same spirit that inspired me. A will for freedom. A will to break away from the unoriginal sins of identity and faux-victimhood. A will to sustain something better even with so much snatched away in oppression. A reckoning.

Although there’s no guarantee in these times that I may reach a seventh decade, I gain some respite by knowing that which matters will find a way forward.

The Future is in safe hands.