Friday, 31 January 2014

My Cure For A Mid-Life Crisis

Turning 40 was not a comfortable time. I was intolerable the days leading up to my actual birthday. Disappointed and angry with anything. The number itself sounded 'old' but moreover, I started to panic about life and whether I had achieved everything I expected to achieve at 40 years of age.

Of course, my more rational side realises life would not have played out any differently. And the panic has slowly melted away, week by week since then. I'm convinced a cure for a mid-life crisis is a combination of some or all of the following:

1. Have someone twice your age tell you 'how lucky' you are for perspective. My 91 year old grandmother phoned me on my birthday, 'oh, 40, I loved being 40, it was my favourite age'. Let's hope her good genes have been passed along the family line.

2. Surround yourself with silly people (or those with the same sense of humour as you). My circle of friends, which I have cultivated lovingly for years, enjoy the silliness. We love our moments of lacking all seriousness about the smallest of things. We do not have to try hard. Brandishing a jar of the spice cumin at the front door when they arrive at my house, saying 'cum-in' will make us laugh for ever.

3. Get someone 12 years younger than you to be gobsmacked at your age. While working away from home, I've been staying in the same hotel, which inevitably employs young, casual staff. A post-shift natter turned to the topic of substance absuse. Sounding a little bit stuffy, I declared 'the last time I dabbled in drugs, I was 21 - that's 19 years ago!' I exclaimed. Protest in disbelief ensued. My ego boosted from here until next Tuesday. It's a cheap trick but it works.

4. R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means for your body. Proving to yourself you can run a marathon at 40, may seem like a mid-life crisis. I don't think you need to take such a drastic step to discover what the 40 year-old body is capable of. I do understand how enormously rewarding it is to break through physical thresholds. For me, it has been a combination of race running but the sensible diet and regular fitness regime came first. And having experienced early warning signs that the body won't last forever, back pain and general joint grumble, I realised it was up to me alone to take control and respect the vessel I am in.

5. Regale younger people, who will listen, with stories about which live bands you've seen. What prompted me to write this post, was a conversation about live music. Wrapped up in the frustration of my career, wishing to be more creative plus agonising over the fact I have only ever visited two continents, made me forget that I have had exactly the experiences I wanted. Between the age of 17 - 35 I consistently bought tickets to see the bands who have enhanced my life. And listing them out to an enthusiastic group of music lovers, may have been incredibly self-indulgent but it jolted me out of my own self-pity.

6. Repeat the mantra daily: age is but a number.  Embrace your passions. Don't try to hard to be someone you are not. Age is a number, not a state of mind.

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