It was quite innocuous question from my young daughter. “Dad, what is a mid-life crisis?” Always ready for an answer I blurted out that it’s a time when people realize that half of their life is over and want to make sure they are doing all they set out to do in the short amount of time we are allowed. Even as I read over my answer, I would agree. There’s always other answers to opinionated questions such as this, but they would mimic themselves for the most part. The question itself has caused me to look back and take inventory on all that I have accomplished up to this point. Overall, life has been kind to me, even in times when I thought it wasn’t. Every single episode has led to the next and things that I wished for early on in life have gone the way that I had hoped but maybe not expected. I’m happily married, have two great kids, we’re all as healthy as you would hope to be and I have a pretty great job. Not only that, but over the last few years, we’ve been afforded the means and the ways to see the world on our terms. Pretty good stuff I would say! So again, that question. What is a midlife crisis? To answer that question for a young child, I did pretty good. For an adult of 42, maybe not so much. It deserves more and here’s why. First of all to really have the typical midlife crisis, I believe there must be something that hasn’t quite fulfilled you. In my case, there’s not. If you would have told me 20 years ago that the life I have today is what I would have, I would have kissed you square on the mouth, because in my younger days, it didn’t appear to be quite as well-mapped for me. In fact, I would venture to say that I was merely being punished for all of the unfortunate series of events that I was a primary catalyst. But on a turn of a dime, things changed and progressively got better. Life was rewarding me for scratching my way to the top and not giving up on myself. Kudos!
So here my wife and I sit, amazed at what this world has afforded us. I have a strong career at a great place (granted it affects the regularity of my blogging and for that I apologize, but work is work), our kids are in great schools that we/they had to work hard to make happen and my retirement package is worth it’s weight in gold as long as we continue on the path that we’re currently traveling. And there it is! Did you catch it? Because over the last few days I have. Essentially it’s this. You strive and strive to get to the position that we find ourselves in now. Stick with what is working and your life is laid out for you. Retirement, family & friends close by, good schools and familiarity of the environment that surrounds us. It’s a comfortable feeling for sure. So the question becomes why is the level of comfort bringing thoughts of uncomfortable along with it. And there it is, the midlife crisis. This one is unique to us, not to you. Or maybe it is. It’s the idea that all the things that are good, the things that carry you on through each day and secure you even more into the future, also happen to be the ties that bind you. How many people out there, such as us, dream of a day where they are the ones sailing from island to island. Not just for a week or so, but for a life. But what if I lose my retirement? No more family get-togethers such as birthdays, holidays, etc on a whim? These are just a few of the questions that can rattle you into an anxiety attack…an attack that is never needed. It’s a selfish notion and that I know for sure. As a matter of fact I’m confident there are people out there who would give their left you know what to be in the positions that we are, but that is always the premise of the mid life crisis, isn’t it? When your mind invades on the purely obvious and throws it a curveball. Do you swing at the pitch and hopefully knock it out of the park? Do you strike out by making a riskier swing than you should have? Or do you up the count by watching the balls go by and trot to the base that awaits you. For us, the answer is unique in that we don’t have to make a rush decision. If we continue down our current path, so be it. Happiness will remain and we will enjoy the ride. But as always to that answer of what is a midlife crisis, the answer is inevitably, “What if?”
There’s no real answer to your own question of what a midlife crisis represents, because it’s something different for everyone. Corvette, bigger house, better toys and for the few, a completely changed life. What it really boils down to is happiness. We all need it and we all should be entitled to it. With all decisions there are risk involved, but it’s a long life, hopefully, and if it has taken many turns in the past, there’s very little to keep it from turning again. At the end of the day, the only thing that is keeping you from becoming the outstanding person you always hope to be and doing the outstanding things you want to do, is you. We may wake up in 20 years to a very nice retirement package having traveled all over the world several times over, or we may find ourselves laying on the deck of our sailboat in the middle of the Caribbean praising a decision we had made many years ago. Either way, happiness is not possible in either instance unless you’re happy with your life in both directions. Keep this in mind though, the people you keep company with will usually dictate the happiness you find. Enjoy the people who surround you and your answer will never be wrong and your midlife crisis merely becomes another decision. If you’re not enjoying the people that surround you, then a mid life crisis may be the one thing in life you were looking to find.
Enjoy your life and good things will happen. And yes, keep traveling.
Live Within Your Means, Travel Beyond Them