Overdue for a midlife crisis (or not)

So yesterday when I provided links to all those other blogs out there, I linked to this story on Salon.  It’s kind of long and nobody clicked on it, but I think there’s an interesting story there: one worth reading.  But I’ll put it in my own words for you, and a lot fewer of them.

The gyst of the article is that we’re 40 and we aren’t having our midlife crisis yet.  In fact, it doesn’t appear that we’re likely to have one any time soon.  We’re not sporting combovers, buying sports cars, or leaving our wife and kids for 20 year old grocery store cashiers.  We’re not turning into George Webber, or Lester Burnham any time soon.1  Instead we get This Is 40: not a story of someone trying to run away from reality, but what it’s like to be stuck in the middle of it even as our bodies start to not work the way they used to.

Granted, some of us go to Burning Man and participate in various other seemingly juvenile behaviors, but those of us who do have been doing so forever.  Some of us might be slow to grow up, but when we do get around to it, it tends to be for good.  And the reason is because we don’t really have much of a choice: backwards on our home with kids to raise and our retirement in jeopardy.  We don’t really have a need for a mid-life crisis because, as Wendy Fonarow is quoted in the article, “our generation is characterized by not hitting a wall of midlife crisis but having crises throughout.”

When I changed careers at 24, within weeks of the release of Office Space, I called it my quarter-life crisis.  When I went back to grad school for the second time at 33, I called it my third-life crisis.  In some ways, I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to make these choices, having kept as many of my options open as possible for so long.  Otherwise I’d probably be hating my life as the director of engineering at some circuit board shop in Malaysia, but that’s a story for another day.

The thing is, that’s what we’ve been doing this whole time: keeping our options open.  It’s a survival instinct and, for some of us anyways, it seems to have worked.  And I gotta say it feels a hell of a lot better than being Woody Allen.

1-      And I could probably add half the films starring Michael Douglas or Bill Murray plus all of the ones with Woody Allen in them.


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