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June 13, 2011


On Crossing 35 Part 1: The Scene

by alive

Given the name of this blog, it was inevitable that I should write about AGE sooner or later. I guess that time is now.



THAT is an important number! A STARK MILESTONE jutting out from the uneventfully flat path of Life many people are content to trudge along without much thought to age…


Why is that?

Well I have a theory and I believe it’s all in the head.

More accurately, is has to do with ANOTHER number in our heads.


My Theory

Most of us passed 21 eagerly and happily, when Life held so much promise. We didn’t know what it would hold for us and we were free to fantasize. Significant milestone this was! Officially an adult, able to do many things legally now!

At 25, it was the half-decade point to 30, but were we concerned? No! Because “2” comes after “1”, so if we’re still young at heart, we’re not the far away from being teenagers! As far as I was concerned, it didn’t matter I was reaching 30, because that’s still young! Socially, at 28, while silly immature girls were laughing at my being ‘old’, intelligent, mature and attractive women were not.

In the early 30s, it still seems as if the 20s were just yesterday, so we’re more in touch with the earlier decade than we are with the next. For me, age was never a consideration. Problems of adulthood may raise their ugly heads, but if you’re physically fit and active and lively, it never even crosses the mind.

But then came the big


That gave me sudden pause.


I think what gets many of us when we are over 35, is not that we’re headed towards

After all, 40 isn’t a problem in this day and age for people who look after themselves.


I think the problem is that for many people, the big 4-O heralds the coming of the BIG…


Now there is something inherently frightening about being 50. Maybe because even as kids, we thought 50 was where ‘old people’ started.


So at 35, we’re no longer looking ahead or back by one decade… NO! At 35 we seem to skip one decade to the big 5-O. The HALF CENTURY MARK.

In effect, 35 is the worm hole that connects one’s mindset
from 30s = still 20s
to 40s = soon 50s!




External Reminders!

Being an active person, fit and vigorous, it was easy for age not to be a consideration.

However there are reminders. Sadly, these reminders are imposed on us by the external world, whether we want to or not. Signs, beeps, nag screens of Life that constantly want to tell us there is something ‘special’ about being 35.

Some of them?

1. Forms

Those forms and surveys you fill in? How come you have smaller denominations, such as 18-2, 26-30, 31-35, and suddently it’s 36 to 50! Just think about the recent forms you had to fill in recently… enough said!


2. These People

I hate these people. I don’t say this because I’m past 35. It’s not the blatant ageism as evinced by their age restrictions that get me. It’s this haughty and condescending statement on their website as they impose their elitist value judgement:

“Contiki tours are specifically designed for those in the 18 through 35 age group. Consequently the facilities and activities on a Contiki tour are not appropriate to persons outside the age bracket. If you have a question regarding the age groups, you should discuss this thoroughly with Contiki staff personnel.”


Now, I wonder what facilities and activities are not appropriate for me, considering that I picked up inline skating, skydiving, Krav Maga, and hip hop dancing all after I passed age 35. I currently have the VO2max of a typical 25 year old, and I daresay that, while a six pack isn’t that uncommon these days, there are a great many people from 18 to 35 who don’t have one. Yet these are people for which the facilities and activities on a Contiki tour are more appropriate. Hmmm.


3. Peer Changes

External changes in peers were also a shocking reminder. This is a much more poignant scenario. It hurt to meet friends I couldn’t recognize because they were a shadow of their former selves. It affected me greatly to see friends who were sports heroes when I was in Primary and Secondary school, even friends who made it through OCS (Officer Cadet School) when I wasn’t even eligible, now looking a lot fatter, a lot weaker and yes, a lot OLDER.

FROM     TO    


And if the sensitive topic came up, what was the predictable response?

“Old liao!”

“No longer young la.”

“More work and responsibility now.”

Was this it?

Was getting older a matter of exchanging health, vigour and vim for wealth, success and kids?


4. Peer Patients

Many of the patients I was exercising for heart problems, diabetes and other ailments were now in the same age bracket.

As a physio in my 20s, I saw many patients in their 30s and 40s. In recent years, due to unhealthy living and an inactive lifestyle, more of these clients came with ‘elderly’ problems such as frozen shoulder, heart disease, osteoarthritis. But to me, that was still a decade removed.

Now, the perspective has shifted a little. Now, these clients are in MY age group. And with that realization comes a reminder of my mortality. Sure, I am fit and heavily into the exercise lifestyle. Hey, that’s how I make my living! But it is still humbling to realize that we all age

But when I turned 35 I couldn’t help but wonder if I was just putting things off for a decade or two, and whether I wouldn’t be the same way when I was 45 or 55.


5. Hits of Yesteryear Are Now Oldies of Today!

It seems like only yesterday that I listened to Sir Mix-a-Lot, Will Smith and even Mariah Carey. Good Lord, even the Real Slim Shady is now old… eleven years old! The other day I heard Coolio’s Gangasta’s Paradize and was rapping along till I hit that part where it says “I’m 23 now, but will I live to see 24 the way things is goin’ Ah don’t know…” Oh I remember how an angst-filled 23-year old me learnt that rap and thought it was so appropriate!

And which reminds me, Michelle Pfeiffer who starred in Dangerous Minds from which that song comes, is now 53. She was 37 then… the same age I am now.


I am sure that these experiences are not unique to me.

I’m sure while reading this, you may have several bulbs light up in those memory banks.

I’m sure that some of these thoughts made you give a wistful shake of the head, or a more vocal curse and swear.

So… what should you do?


Well, I can’t presume to tell you what YOU should do.

But in Part Two, let me share with you what I did do.


Stay tuned for Part Two!



1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Lilian
    Jun 27 2011

    To be honest, I never think about my age until now… Not because I had cross the age of 35 and going towards 40 or 45 years old etc.. But is my body that falling apart that reminded me I am no longer young.

    I started to have knees pain that after one incident. Not sure it is linked to my ankle sprain or not. But one thing happen after another… It leads me to think about what else I can do with my body falling apart. I still haven’t started my hip hop dance, trees climb, white waterraft, and lots more. It is scary to think about getting old with aches and pain. I wouldn’t want to have any at all, if possible.

    In my opinion, it is good not to thunk about age. Is not a denial. When you didn’t even notice you are aging, it means you are still young at heart. Which can help you to achieve great stuff. But of course, you need to be on the right track. Otherwise, you will stray and never achieve anything.

    Maybe for me is different. I don’t count by age… I count by how many things I have accomplish. Some stuff can never be measured. Even at 40 or even 50 years old, I will still continue doing it. I believe every one should do their best for everything and don’t regrets when looking back. Every one should strive towards their dreams no matter how old they are. Continue to have dreams and never settle for less or be complacent.

    Live a life that you yourself feel happy. Because only if you are happy, everything around you will be beautiful…


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