The other day I woke up into a sea of anxiety yet again.
But this time, instead of just thinking, “oh look, there’s more anxiety,” I had a surprising thought:
I wonder if I’m having a mid-life crisis.
A few hours later I was sitting with my boyfriend chatting about this and that, when out of the blue he mentions that he has been thinking about what it means to have a mid-life crisis.
As if I needed any more confirmation than that.
So here it is. Now what?
I guess I just always assumed I wouldn’t be “one of those people” who goes through a mid-life crisis.
Here is why: one of my neighbors at the last place I lived went through one while I was living next door. He went out and bought a really fancy sports car, started gambling a lot with online bookmakers accepting pay pal and at the casinos and divorced his wife.
I haven’t done any of that, nor is it on any agenda I am currently aware of.
But given my emotional state of late, it would seem a person can still have a mid-life crisis even if they aren’t blowing through their savings, running off to travel the world, scheduling cosmetic surgery or putting themselves back on the market for a new sidekick.
(NOTE: I can see nothing inherently wrong with any of these things, by the way, save if the underlying motivation is perhaps the kind of anxiety I’ve been feeling lately. That, I would think, could make the whole endeavor somewhat suspect.)
My boyfriend says he feels like a mid-life crisis is when you realize your own mortality and start seeing everything in your life from that perspective. Your possessions, your choices, your connections, your profession – all suddenly have to pass through an extra filter before being allowed to continue as-is.
I can totally see that. Maybe that is behind my near-obsessive drive to downsize, an ambition that only continues to grow as I eye those cute tiny houses on wheels I’ve been reading about on the internet.
Recently, I’ve made a lot of changes. As the number of pets I cohabitate with has grown (our flock now numbers 4 beings: 1 feathered, 2 shelled and 1 homo sapiens), the amount of space we live in has diminished accordingly. Like….huh?
In the interim, I’ve sold or donated nearly everything of value I own that doesn’t get daily use. My closet is a shadow of its former self, as is pretty much the rest of our casa.
Meanwhile, I struggle each night and every morning with the meaning of life, the meaning of mortality, what will happen when mortality happens to me, and whether my deepest dreams and visions will ever range within reach before I can answer each of these four questions for sure.
Suffice it to say I am feeling a lot of stress. And a lot of confusion. Plus a not insignificant amount of depression.
I am also wondering if this is something everyone (or at least everyone with a large pre-frontal cortex) goes through at some point in their life. Or are there people who never give it a second thought for whatever reason (perhaps because they are the Dalai Lama)? Are there people who act out a mid-life crisis but don’t realize they are doing all those new and unusual things because they are worrying about mortality and the after-life or the quality of their life lived to date or how to live out the rest of their life or all of the above?
Conversely, are there people who are so peacefully connected to their own insides that moving from life-now to whatever-comes-next feels like a seamless transition that is absolutely nothing to fret over or even think about? (If yes, and you are one of them, and you are reading this, please message me as soon as you can so I can sign up for that course!)
It is a weird place to be, to say the least. I am turning 46 in December, which is a number that feels like it will officially kick off the second half of my life. I mean, our people can live into the 100’s, but 90 years seems like a reasonable assumption given the ever-lengthening lifespans of this generation.
What I mean by that is, nothing about evaluating one’s quality of life, where it is lived, who it is lived with, how it is lived – none of this seems irrelevant, out of place or trivial on any level. In fact, it seems like a smart thing to do, but just something that should occupy a tiny part of each day of life, rather than all parts of a small number of days about mid-way through life.
That is another reason why I thought I would never be “one of those people” who would have a mid-life crisis. Because I do think about all those things on a daily basis, usually during my morning meditation.
Only now, they don’t feel like conjecture, hypothesis, theory or fodder for an interesting debate. They feel REAL.
Perhaps that is what a mid-life crisis really is. It is the day you wake up and realize that this life you have been living, are living now, will be living in the future for an indeterminate number of additional days, will be the sum total of all the days you get to live life as YOU.
(Here, we won’t even get into questions about reincarnation – I mean, even if I do come back for another round after this one ends, chances are good I won’t remember I’ve done it all before as someone else and, as such, will still have a fresh, new-feeling mid-life crisis at around this same age all over again.)
In summary, maybe a mid-life crisis is really just a particularly charismatic mentor sent to kindle a deeper appreciation of this life I am living now, plus a renewed desire to do my best to make the absolute most of whatever remains of it.
I am kind of hoping so.
Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever seen anyone you know go through a mid-life crisis? Have you ever had an experience yourself that felt like it might be a mid-life crisis? What made you think that is what it was? What did you do – if anything – to move through it to where you are now? I’d love to hear your experiences!