I swore it would never happen, didn't you? I swore I would never let the bastards get me down. Never think music was played too loud. Never favor a night in with a good book over a late night out drinking and clubbing. I certainly was never going to let anyone or anything slow me down. And I swore I would always, always love the Stones.
I still love the Stones. But by the time you're into the Second Half, chances are the bastards did get you down more than once during your First Half. People were mean and it hurt; life was unfair and you got burned; love was glorious and then it sucked. There was no escaping it; you just used to think there was.
About music being played too loud(ly): sometimes it is just too bloody loud. You can't hear yourself think over a throbbing base but if you loved the Stones at full-blast back then, now you know there are some sweet acoustics and awesome harmony you only catch when you turn it down. Of course, that doesn't mean you don't still love to blare Brown Sugar through your sunroof when driving home from the beach.
The drinking and clubbing thing is overrated. I know, you swore you would never say that. But you thought it even in your young and foolish First Half; you would just never admit that curling up at home with a book that transports you could trump a night of too much vodka, noise and dancing when you didn't really feel like it in an over-crowded, overpriced club, only to be rewarded with a massive headache the next morning. Well, now you can. Gimme the book.
As for slowing down, I would say there's a temporary lull when the weight of adult responsibilities and the natural aging process do slow you down, dammit. But it is temporary. Because once you clear the core kid-raising, mortgage-paying, loan re-paying and job securing that is central to most mid-lives and their respective crises, and once you start practicing, say, yoga, you just know nothing can slow you down. Unless, of course, you let it.
In the Second Half, you get a second chance, but this time it's based on strength borne of lessons learned, not a youthful reverence for your own delusions of invincibility. You realize the bastards only get you down if you give them that power. There is music that you play real loud because you choose to, not because you're supposed to. If you occasionally put down that engrossing book to go boogie with friends in a club until 4:00 am (OK, maybe 1:00 am), it's fun, but nothing beats getting back to the book in your pj's with a coffee on Sunday morning. And best of all, in the Second Half you have a certain freedom that must be earned -- financial, emotional, spiritual -- and that allows you to go at the world with a renewed zest and confidence that no one and nothing can slow you down.
Yup, it happened to me. And thank god it did.