Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mid Life Crisis (Part One): A (Not so) Buddhist Perspective

My well meaning, thirty year old chiropractor was rather glib as she announced, "How wonderful! The mid life crisis is an excellent time for spiritual growth." She exclaimed all of this rather gleefully as I sat in my near-to-tears-end-of-the-tether state in her office. I'd poured my heart out about the aches and pains and emotional craziness and the feeling of losing control. And she was like: "Ooh. Yay. Half your life is over." I wanted to smack her.

Clearly, she still has a way to go to enjoy the mid life experience in all its technicolour, volume turned up glory. I was as smug as she was glib: wait till she gets to forty. Ha. Ha.

And that's the other thing. I think that turning forty has turned me snarky. I'm not forty. I am snarky. Next year I'll be snarky one. It's as though the snark setting in my DNA has shifted from "optional" to "default". Pah.

I have not gone out and got myself any of the following traditional mid-life crisis toys and bells and whistles:

Young blonde arm candy
A mohawk
An age inappropriate wardrobe
Plastic Surgery

What I have got is:

A sense that I wasted my entire life up to this point
Life cover
A retirement fund
A gym membership
Severe anxiety attacks that pounce at any given moment without warning
The crushing disappointment that my life didn't turn out the way I had envisioned it when I was ten years old (which I realize is completely ridiculous and I was never going to be the one to solve the mystery of the face on Mars anyway)

Experiencing the mid life transformation is no joking matter, regardless of how many jokes are actually made about it. And yes, it IS a real thing.

Typically, mid-lifers examine their lives and start doing some (what others may think is) very weird shit. Like buying a Ferrari, changing career, dressing differently, going to gym.

For me, there is a bit of that. And a lot of questioning and confusion. And the panic attacks, of course. It is a vastly unpleasant experience. Everything is chaotic. And, it seems, not uncommon. Career, spiritual life, leisure, goals, regrets, anxiety, lack of purpose, life in general. It all seems very much up in the air. Things are changing, beliefs are coming under the spotlight. It's a lot like going through puberty again, but this time knowing better. I can understand why people go for the Ferrari and Plastic Surgery. It would be easy to make the mistake that these things would dispell the uncertainty and craziness.

I've developed an aversion to beige. I have begun wearing more make up. I want to radically change my career and do something "meaningful" with my life. Even though I am not entirely sure what "meaningful" would actually look like if it walked right past me on a bright sunny day.

And since this particular phase echoes the rebellious madness of puberty, there is a strong desire to show the world my middle finger, dust off my Doc Martens and listen to loud music whilst I pout in a darkened room all day.

Which is something that responsible adults at the age of 40 do not do. And, if I am honest, I didn't actually do as a teenager either.

I'll settle with showing the world the middle finger and not wearing beige. Oh. And living my days spouting the following, as it rather nicely sums up just how I feel:

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