Not by choice, but by law of nature, I am at the threshold of my life's heavier, grey'er', reflective half - the mid-life! (Note: I am relying purely on statistics and averages here, no tarot reading or palmistry is involved!) So, I am wondering if, behind that grey lock that refuses to mingle with its black neighbors or that obstinate belly fat that no yogasana is able to dislodge, there is also a crisis lurking to engulf my mid-life?
Is there a reason behind the madness- those flashes of despair interjected by sparks of giddy hope, boredom replaced by bubbly enthusiasm, self-loathing shooed away by self-adulation? Is my propensity to swing from a deep meditative state to bollywood twist, and from Shantaram to Fifty Shades of Grey in the blink of an eye, a product of my budding mid-life crisis? (the hormonal changes have taken way too much beating anyway)
Conversely, should I also credit my mid-life with a 'growing up' experience, a kind of 'second coming of age' when the tinted glasses worn at the 'first coming of age' 2 decades back, finally drop off? The age when naivete gives way to experience, when proving ourselves to others is passe and proving ourselves to our own self seems necessary.
So is the mid-life crisis real - manifesting itself in physical changes, emotional swings and social shifts or is it a hype created by anti-ageing formulas, fertility clinics and spiritual gurus?
An internet search on the subject reveals that mid-life crisis can strike anytime after 35 years of age and that men and women respond to the crisis differently. So while women go through a lot of emotional upheaval, especially if the children are ready to 'fly the nest' and start a self-exploratory journey, men work aggressively and urgently towards a tangible goal.
I think middle age is the age that works on averages even on a macro level, redefining norms and standards set by society, family and biases we have grown up with. It opens up people to the idea of pushing boundaries and exploring uncharted territories in unexpected ways. It may take the form of exploring quietude for those who have always lived on the edge or it may lead to a quest for adventure and thrill for those who have hitherto lived a sheltered life.
Yes, middle age seems to be at the cusp of "What have I achieved so far?" and " Let me do this before it's too late." An age when all those fancy ideas about growing up, maturity, freedom sworn by in the past go through the shredder and get replaced by 'fancier' ideas about spirituality, philosophy of life and ironically about fun, fitness and healthier choices!
It is a time when you have a bagful of experiences and are still hungry for more, when you have memories a plenty but are still looking to create more. It is an age you spend reminiscing a lot, reflecting a lot and if you are not careful then regretting a lot! It's as if you are crossing a bridge and know that you have to hurry to get across but for some reason you keep looking over your shoulder, mentally measuring the distance you have covered from the start.
It is difficult to wish away the tangible signs of mid-life that smile back at you as you stand in front of the mirror every morning. But if we start looking ahead, then mid-life presents more of an opportunity than a crisis. This- the second coming of age is free from the burden of chasing a career, a suitable partner, starting a family or of seeking acceptance and is thus sweeter!
Yes mid-life makes you realize all in good stead that:
- The journey and the struggle is more inward than outward,
- The freedom to be is more important that the freedom to do,
- Life throws lemons faster at you than you can make lemonade,
- Rebellion does not end with teenage, it is necessary to keep rebelling against inertia life-long,
- Life is in the small things
So I have decided to celebrate my second coming of age and letting my life in the mid-years and beyond count! Have you?
(Story first published on author's own blog in 2015)