Welcome to my midlife crisis. According to a random dictionary app, middle-age starts at 45, which I turned months ago, and lasts until you run out of excuses. To belabor the point, I was only able to read said definition because I use the largest iPhone font known to science. I’m not even trying to hide it (not that I could — it’s freaking huge). I am, apparently, in crisis mode.
And I always thought there would be more sports cars.
Wikipedia states that a midlife crisis lasts two to 10 years, and can be triggered by changes in an individual’s sense of normalcy. This includes loss of a loved one, job stress or any number of societal pressures. Kids are probably on the list.
I fit most of the requirements, and frankly, I feel most of them, too. Loss has shaped me. My employment is on the ebb, to the point I fear the tide has left me. There are politics, bills, pets, meetings, traffic, family, health, and you get the picture. I know from pressure.
But do I understand it?
That isn’t to say what I have faced hasn’t been terrible. It has. It has been beyond the pale, breaking me for all to see and then sticking around long past when the cards stop coming. But I am fortunate to live in a place where support is readily available, and even if empathy isn’t, sympathy makes an effort. The scars may not fade, but they are at least afforded the chance to heal. I consider myself hashtag blessed. All of which leads me to wonder, what if my midlife crisis is nothing more than another phase of privilege?
For instance, do you know what my biggest regret is so far today? I accidentally ate three waffles. I’m not proud of it, nor do I care to justify it. It just happened. There was a moment of toaster confusion, too much syrup, and then nothing but the sweet linger of memory. I’ve made bigger mistakes, and most of them tasted downright awful by comparison.
However, rather than update the Internet of my struggle, I didn’t. In the time it would take to tweet a joke about overeating junk food, someone, somewhere, is coping with the demons of body image, while others are facing a life of hunger. I couldn’t let go of a damn Eggo. I will survive.
Still, I like to make jokes on Twitter. I like waffles. My restraint was more perspective than pressure, but having an awareness of the former doesn’t always mean that we should heed it. Jokes help people, too.
The point? Embarking on a midlife crisis seems to me the antiquated version of a rain cloud emoji. I have problems, some of them terrible and unfixable, some that don’t really even matter, but mine is not a world where I am judged or threatened due to my gender, ethnicity or sexual identity. There are not any planes dropping bombs overhead. I’m a 45-year-old white guy living in Los Angeles. What the hell am I complaining about?
There are countless real crises in the world, and my aging isn’t one of them. What if, rather than wasting the next two to 10 years pining for a sports car, I turn my attention toward making a difference — that I spend each day setting an example for my children and encouraging them to put their backs into it? We’re likely to fail, a lot, but some normals need to be changed, and that starts with me, with us. There is no better time for facing a crisis than now, midlife be damned.
And it probably goes without saying, but that waffle thing will probably happen again.