(Feature): Life Begins At 40?

The Psalmist said, ‘Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.’ (90:2)

If one has a good taste in authors or one is a music lover, a movie goer, and listener to daily radio… whichever means a lad or lass is hit by this catch-phrase, life begins at forty is a favourite quote for many an adult when they engage the minds of young people.

But, does life really begin when a person is already 40? Is this saying founded on science or natural history of cultures around the world? It is said that, we judge a man by his questions and not his answers.

For many a youth, life begins at forty remains among those thought provocations one cannot avoid if we are to understand our place in the grand scheme of things and fulfil our purpose.

As a young man born and bred in the deep jungles of Africa, life is the only reality that makes this existence a wonder. I do not believe from what I have seen that life literally begins at forty – in both plant and animal kingdoms. Life is a mystery, they say. I have come to believe life has no beginning, even though, death – a mystery of the end that is not talked about often – is inescapable.

So, in between the time we are conceived and deceased, we have a stint with eternity in a brief moment called life.
We take for granted that life begins on the day we are born and ends at the time we pass on. This social assumption does not stand in the face of science, because, biologically, one’s life began at the time of conception, not birth. That said, we have series of physical/mental stages to pass through on our journey through time once we are born. The same body we arrived with, is not the very same body at any of the stages we developed through as we grow.

The helpless blurb of flesh that came in a sac at birth is not the same helpless sack of bones in a withered skin old-age ensures at the end. For many a religious believer, that end is also a beginning.

With life expectancy capped often at 70, I understand why those blessed with a good number of years would gently prod a youth to be mindful of the timelines that guide a good social life. Society expects a child to be a child; from infancy all through to adolescence. We learn to listen and speak, sit/crawl and walk, and talk and write and so on. In the time one is transitioning into adulthood, the youth is taught/guided to have acquired the necessary social skills and manners and etiquettes so as to facilitate peaceful coexistence with other people.

It is the duty of one’s family and society to nurture the developing mind to be fit for purpose in the child’s unknown future wherever s/he may find the self.

By the time a person is nearing 40, it is expected that, any skill-set one is gifted with by nature/inheritance or might have learned or acquired through experimenting with his/her environments may have been developed enough to begin the next phase of independent living. By the age of thirty-five, a person’s reasoning faculties should be developed enough to define for oneself what his/her purpose in life is.

The young adult at this age is naturally imbued with some sense of urgency that, no one lives forever. There’s brevity to living and that if by this time of a person’s life, s/he shows no or little sense of the inevitable, their coming upon Earth may not have gone according to design. It is most probable that such a person may grope through the rest of his/her life almost aimlessly.

40 years is the time that anyone who intends to live the good life ought to do the needful. Dependency should almost be over. The life we dreamed of in childhood to be living when we become adults must begin by now. This is the time you educate yourself! Is marriage on the menu? Know your recipe, and choose carefully who the partner is.

The kids you intend to raise wouldn’t drop from the sky. You have to have them and raise them yourself by now. Your dream house should have its plan in your mind’s eye even with your eyes closed. In all likeliness, somebody in the 40 brackets ought to acknowledge and pay attention to what is called their burning desire. Let your ambitions fly!

Keep an open mind and embrace the certainty that the past, present and the future are all now! If we are to live life to the fullest, that fanfare has commenced and the invitation remains opened to all who are ready to honour it. It is not easy, they say, but it is doable, they add. You have lived through four decades already.

Let the next forty count, and Mother Nature may extend it to even hundred, if not more!

Author: Kwasi Mensah, Media Practitioner at Pure 95.7FM
Adom House, Patasi High Street – Kumasi

Evans Osei-Bonsu

Evans is a radio producer @PureFM (95.7MHz) under the Angel Broadcasting Network (ABN Ghana), writer, student of Law and Politics at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

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