This morning I am thinking about my midlife crisis.
I think I’ll skip it.
I am,with luck, just about midlife now. I’m 44, my grandparents lived to be 87 and 88 –the two that lived past their 60s. And I’m aware that time is passing, and the door is closing on certain opportunities: I’m not as hot as I once was, and I won’t be hot at all before too much more time passes; soon I won’t be capable of picking up women in bars.
Which is too bad, because I was never capable of picking up women in bars. I mean, I never tried it, because I met my wife before I could legally go to bars; but up until that point, I was staggeringly bad at picking up women, so I have to assume that the application of alcohol would not have improved my game. Fortunately, I have literally zero interest in picking up women anywhere, with alcohol or not; my wife is the finest and most wonderful woman who ever existed, to me, so I already won this game: I can retire undisputed champion, right now.
Speaking of champions and retirement, I’m not as physically fit as I once was: I’m now in the age where I heal slower, where exercise offers less positive result, and what there is comes slower. I grunt when I stand up, and often when I sit down. I have aches and pains that don’t go away — I have had more than one bout with plantar fasciitis, which sounds like a villain from the original Star Trek series. Soon I won’t be able to do all those physical things I meant to do: master a martial art (and KICK SOMEONE’S ASS), climb a mountain, learn to surf, to ski, to skydive.
Oh wait, that’s right: I never meant to do those things. Never wanted to skydive, nor ski; and I’m afraid of drowning and of sharks, so I think surfing is right out. I would like to climb a mountain, but really, I’m most interested in the kind you can walk up: and I can still walk. I admit I kinda do want to kick someone’s ass. Maybe I can look into martial arts lessons.
The main thing is, I don’t want to feel old. I don’t want to feel like my life is over, or the good part is over, or I’m running out of time to do young things. Maybe I should buy a sports car, get a body part pierced; maybe I should go to some all-day rock festival with all of my students.
Wait a second: I don’t want to hang out with my students. I don’t want to be like my students. I don’t envy them; I don’t miss being a teenager; I hated being a teenager. I hated being in high school, hated being condescended to and instructed as to what my life would be and what it should be and what I needed to do in order to get there. I hated having people tell me that what I wanted to do was right or wrong, when it wouldn’t have bothered anyone to just let me do what I want. (For the most part. There were a couple of things I genuinely shouldn’t have done, shouldn’t have been allowed to do, things which did indeed hurt other people. But other than those, and there weren’t many of them, I could have been given free rein and nothing would have gone wrong.) I much prefer being an adult.
Hell, I prefer being middle-aged. And I don’t want to do anything new, don’t want to catch up on the experiences I missed out on; certainly not with any urgency. I mean, I’d love to have a nice car — though I’d prefer some enormous boat of a car, a Cadillac or a Lincoln or one of those 1950’s five-ton Detroit rolling steel behemoths, rather than a sports car; I hate going fast, but I kinda like the idea of taking up the entire road, the entire parking lot — but I don’t see anything wrong with getting that car when I’m 80. I’d rather have it now, I guess, but I don’t need to hurry. I do want to travel the world, and I’d like to experiment with some different careers; but again, I don’t need to do that before some arbitrary deadline when I imagine time runs out. I’d like to do it soon, I can wait, and whatever I don’t get to, oh well.
You know what I really want? I want the second half of my life to be as good as the first half has been. I’ve been quite lucky, and I’ve done pretty well, and I’d like to have more of the same. I expect the last fifteen or twenty years to mostly suck, but the first fifteen or twenty mostly sucked too, so it’s a wash. But even if I don’t get that wish, here’s the truth: I’ve had a good life. Not a perfect life, but nobody has that. For not perfect, I’m quite happy with what I’ve had. So even if every subsequent year is less pleasant from here on out, I’ve already had a good run.
No crisis for me, thank you. I’ll just take more life.