So I quit my job to travel and make music. A lot of friends have politely asked me if this might not be, well, just some sort of mid-life crisis? To which I gleefully respond: Absolutely!
Let’s face it. The 40s throw a lot of troubles your way:
- Aging begins to really show
- Family members begin to die
- The culture of your youth begins to fade and become irrelevant
- And you’re probably getting really bored with the life your crafted for yourself sometime in your late 20s.
It seems to me a crisis and realignment is perfectly in order. In fact, it seems not having some sort of reshuffling of your life at this point is probably ill advised. So the problem isn’t the crisis so much as how you handle it. Particularly bad strategies would seem to be:
- Glory Days! – Listening to old music, watching old movies, and generally cocooning yourself in the past is not going to work. You can’t go back and it really wasn’t as great as you remember anyway. Obsessing over the past only blinds you to the present.
- Auto-Destruct – Yes life is tougher at 40 but so are you. Pouting and going on a “to hell with it all” binge is, not suprisingly, not going to end well. You’re just putting off the inevitable or you’re going to kill yourself.
- The Big Affair – I’ve nothing against relations over a pretty broad age range. I know many couples who’ve negotiated 20+ years difference with no problem. And you might find it exciting to date or be around younger people for a while. The problem is you can’t use any relationship to solve your problems. It never works. Your issues are your’s to work out and all the great sex in the world won’t help.
Better strategies seem to include:
- Taking Stock – You’re not the person you were at 25 so it seems wise to take a bit of time and get perspective on who you are now and what you want. It’s awfully hard to be introspective in hustle and bustle of daily life so taking some time away might help (that’s my plan).
- Reconnect – The world is amazing today. As amazing as it was when you were young (if not more so), but you’ll never feel that if you don’t get involved. Dump all your old music and buy new stuff. Visit new clubs, try new trendy sports. I’m not saying you have to become a total faddish pop culture wanna be, but look around and see what’s out there that you really connect with. I think you’ll be surprised at how “hip” with today’s culture you can be as long as you’re honest.
- Embrace Risk – Remember how awkward being young was? School, dating, job interviews, and being an idiot at everything? By 40 you’ve probably conquered most of that. Is there anything left that really makes you squirm with anxiety during the average week? Nothing? That’s a problem. Without risk life is pretty dull and stagnate. You don’t grow, you don’t feel alive.
The good news is you can now jump between the two worlds. Be the safe stable adult for a while, then go off and take all the managed, responsible risks you like. The young have to take risks, the old can’t afford to, but middle age offers risks on your terms. Maybe it’s time to start taking advantage of that.
And that’s my rant on the mid-life crisis. Hope you enjoyed it but I gotta bolt. My 21-year-old “personal trainer” is waiting for me down in the Porche. We’re going nude bungee jumping. :)