Someone that I know had their 50th birthday this year. I asked, in a not-so-serious way if he had a mid-life crisis to go with said special birthday. His answer – daily. While I don’t believe that is the case, I do know that it made me think about why some people have them, and some people don’t. It’s not a good or a bad thing – just something that I always find interesting.
We all know the clichés when it comes to men and women and their respective mid-life crises. Men trade in their SUV’s for sportscars that they can barely get into or out of. Depending on their budgets, the cars range from orange Corvettes on the low-end to lime green Lamborghinis on the high end. The obnoxious colours a mystery. Usually, in addition to their cars, they have done a trade in of another kind. I live in an area where I often see men with canes with their 27 year-old girlfriends. Sometimes, on a rare occasion, and I have seen this, it really is a love match, but that’s 2% of the time.
On the other hand, women who have hit that very same crisis have traded in their button-downs for leopard prints. Hey, I’ve been a fan since my 20s, I peaked early, I get it. They also officially enter cougardom, using cringe-y phrases like “let’s go dancin'” – apparently, in middle-age, you lose the “g” at the end of words. Sometimes, it’s “I gotta be me” – again, grammar goes out the window – words are lost, and the English language suffers. Said woman then goes on the prowl at places like STK and other assorted places where the boys are.
Still others moan about the best years of their lives being over and wonder, what the meaning of life is. Existential crisis, mid-life crisis, it’s all the same. I asked some of my friends about their own mid-life feelings. One said “I just don’t care” (a good friend of mine said this, and I believe her). A guy friend of mine who is of that special age just said to me, I still think of myself as a kid. Happily married, he isn’t into shall we say douche-y cars and women less than half his age. Yet another friend told me it was because he didn’t fear death and he thinks that things go downhill at 70 – although that isn’t always the case – so he wants to enjoy his best years.
I’ve thought about why I won’t have a mid-life crisis of my own. Part of it is because of my experiences. My sister, for example, died at 55. That means her mid-life was 27.5 years of age. My mother lived to be 78 which makes her mid-life 39. My Uncle Max, our reluctant family patriarch lived to be the ripe old age of 102 (give or take a few years). He played 9 holes of golf a day until he was 97.
In a convoluted way, what I am trying to say is that none of us know what or when our mid-life will be. We don’t have that mirror into the future. I don’t know if I’ve passed my middle age in my 20’s or if this is my mid-life. When I mused to a friend who thinks more deeply about things than I do, he said that the reason that I’m not having one is that for the last few years, my life has been so much about other people, that it was never my own and that now is a time to start it.
I think about aging, of course. I look in the mirror and sometimes, I stick my tongue out at myself because I don’t like what I see. I hope that I just age gracefully, and more than one person told me to get botox or fillers or other procedures. I’m just not into that – but if that’s your thing, go for it. One of the bonuses is that you also don’t care as much about what other people think of you – there are some benefits for sure.
Really, the crisis is that we fear is that our lives will end and that we won’t have ticked all of the boxes that we think that we should have and that perhaps, our lives won’t have meaning. But, I also think that we need to realize how much we have done before we hit that special age that we all think of as mid-life and how much there is to come after. Mid-life means that you have life, not that life is over. There are still things to discover and those boxes left to tick and sometimes you will find what you are looking for right under your nose.
I’ve mentioned this before, but there was a day, a very difficult day, when I allowed myself to cry in front of my mother for the one and only time during her illness. It was the day we told her that my sister had cancer. I knew just how bad my sister’s prognosis was, but kept it from my mother and told her that Michele would live. But the question that I asked in that moment was an all-encompassing “What am I going to do?” Her answer was simply that “You’ll live your life.” I knew then, that she knew more than she was letting on, but I carry those words with me every single day. Not just the words but how she said them. The way she looked at me so emphatically. And that is the best advice that anyone ever gave me.