I think this mid-life crisis business might be real. One doesn’t want to drape one’s destiny around a looming, arbitrary number (forty, coming up in July), but as the date that wasn’t supposed to mean anything draws nearer, the funnel of possibility that was once so wide it was impossible to avoid it is getting narrower by the minute.
I keep reminding myself that the way I live my life, my way of being, means much more than the sum of my accomplishments, but I still have this nagging feeling that there are certain things I must do (write, draw, make music). At the same time I know in my very bones that I’ll never do them – not the way I want to – and that makes me profoundly sad.
I think often about the way our lives affect those of others in ways we’ll never know and could not have imagined, and sometimes that thought is enough to half-convince me it will be okay if I never publish a book or sell another piece of artwork, or live abroad, or learn to sing alto, or read Ulysses, or appear on the Daily Show as a special guest.
There’s another part to my mid-life crisis I like to keep close to my vest. I’m not sure when it started happening, but I fear I’m becoming somewhat of a recluse. It’s not that I don’t like people or want to have friends; more that I prefer solitude and the quiet introspection of daily, repetitive tasks to the trauma of picking up a telephone, making plans, sustaining conversation, putting on a pair of socks.
I don’t think it’s good for me, but the warm cocoon of my domestic dominion has some kind of built-in force field that makes it very difficult to step out.
As I write this, my husband is in the next room over, building a robot. He has decided that fishing is too emotionally draining and taken up robotics as a hobby instead.
“The future, as I see it, has been very disappointing,” he said. “By now we should be commuting to work in hovercrafts and having robots complete our daily tasks.”
“I think I’m having a mid-life crisis” I told him.
“Why do you think I’m building this robot?” he said.
Here is something I’ve discovered: life gets smaller the longer you live it, not the other way around.
I’m not depressed, in case you were wondering. And I know that if could just find a good cause to throw myself into, all of these imaginary problems would be roundly solved. Because isn’t that the ticket? Doing things for others instead of the solipsistic navel gazing I’ve been engaging in, instead?
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