Exactly what happens, and when, varies from person to person.
It affects people differently. Many men simply breeze through this period, sailing serenely into old age with a sense of confidence and satisfaction. That’s fine. No, really, I’m very pleased for them. Delighted. Couldn’t be more thrilled. The smug ba–
For many of us, though, middle age is a much more turbulent sea to navigate. We become acutely aware of the dark depths beneath us. Doubts and anxieties strike like sudden squalls –, deep questions about who we are and what we want to be. We look ahead into the darkness and start to be fearful of how this voyage is going to turn out.
We feel old, disregarded, scared and useless, as though somehow we’ve failed or that we’re no longer appreciated. There is a horrible sense that the ship is slowly sinking. It looks like we’re OK, but inside we are springing leaks all over the place.
And from somewhere far off, carried on the wind, comes the single defining question of middle age: ‘Is that it?’
I frequently meet men who are grappling with this stuff. One of them, in particular, I see every day, staring back at me from the mirror
At some point everyone, male or female, has to address the issue of what their life is really all about. For men, I think that this midlife stage is the one of the points when we encounter this question most clearly. And how we answer that question is of profound importance not only to ourselves, but also to all those around us.
That’s why I wanted to write this book.
It’s for men of a certain age. And the women who have to live with them.
It’s for anyone who has ever looked around them and said to themselves, ‘Is that it?’
It’s for anyone who knows what it is to wake at night and feel that sense of stomach-churning anxiety that life is somehow leaving them behind.
It’s for the disappointed, the anxious, the grumpy.
It’s for anyone who feels that what they really need in life is a truly great shed.
It’s an honest look at the fears, hopes and challenges of midlife, drawing lessons from the story of Jacob, the wisdom of Carl Jung and the heroism of Percy the Park Keeper.
Most of all, this is a book for people who want to change. Because that, I believe, is what these feelings are really all about.
Through my own story, and those of many men whom I have met, I explore how all these issues and questions and desires are signposts, invitations to a different, happier, more fulfilled life.
Especially the one about the shed.
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