Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mid-Life Meditation

How high will I climb in life? I'm already there, peering down. How many children will have my smile? My chin? My eyes? They're born, they've walked, they've driven away. My obituary is finished, and I'm not even dead. My life is more behind, and less ahead.

"Mid-life Crisis" is a cliche of modern life, and I've had a taste myself. The mere fact that most is "behind" colors what comes next. The things we pursued fade like the last days of summer. Careers plateau, kids fly the nest, and hairlines recede.

We've watched in silent horror as sane adults leased face lifts and boobs, sports cars and mistresses. We watched in shocked disbelief as friends upended the bounties of their lives into a bonfire of vanities. We are repulsed, even as we feel the bite.

Midlife crisis is the crisis of being human. Only, at moments, our humanity breaks the surface of this hypoxic, monotonous sea. Across we reach into the hostile heaven, snatching a gulp of breath from its fatal, forbidden expanse. What is a whale to think, which way is up? To succumb to the safe, slow descent, or aspire the absurd beaching of sun-drenched death? Another beached behemoth, live at six and ten.

I once awoke, a boy of twelve, and peered from my window. A streetlight shone, buzzing to the mute applause of the empty street. Its halo called me out to walk the wilderness of solitude. A world seen by none but me; a world of wonder 'neath my feet; a world of bats, preying on the streetlight's swarm.

Eventually every soul awakes to its scarcity of life. One awakes to life's elusive quest; one awakes to an ill-fitted toupee; one awakes never more. So let us love in the light, for love is from God. Hope does not disappoint, for God has poured out his love into our hearts by the holy spirit he has given.

Joe B


Scott said...

Well isn't this poetic, Joe.

I'm often caught between still wanting to get more accomplished, wanting to get more done, wanting a nicer home for my family, wanting more security, wanting *more*... and knowing in my mind that these things don't matter as much as I often think they do. I know that love matters more... but the psychologist in me also reminds me that we can only control the love we give to others, and yet our humanity has an innate desire to BE loved (just as much if not more than what we distribute). Many of our "mid-life crises" revolve loosely around that fact, methinks.

Love... So profound, yet so often a concept that we consider to be more abstract than what it needs to be.

Joe B said...

Wanting to be loved makes you weak. Not caring makes you formidable. Not loving makes you worm-crap.

There, that should erase any poetic inclinations I may have exhibited.

Paula said...

There's another way to look at this.... I read recently that there is actually an upside to depression. If we allow ourselves to feel it, it actually helps us readjust to our new, changed reality. Only if we scrutinize and then embrace the new reality, can we let go of what has passed away. Only then, can we adjust our self concept and be the best we can be in that given season of life. As for the craving to be loved, I think the "crisis" comes when we recognize that our ability to attract "love" may have changed or shifted from the physical focus as in the younger years, to hopefully something more substantial and eternal. Until we get there, some may fear they are no longer "lovable". A prime opportunity for some major open heart surgery by the Holy Spirit.

Craig said...

I still vividly remember my twentieth birthday, sitting in my dorm room, looking out the window, and being struck by the realization that there were things that I wanted to do and accomplish in my life that I never would, and in part, simply because I wasn't as good as I needed to be to do/accomplish those things. Twenty, for heaven's sake! I sorta wanted to ask for my money back, for having a 'mid-life crisis' twenty years too soon. . .

Memento mori as the old monks used to say. Remember death. Or, in more 'biblical' terms:

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

I resonate strongly with what Scott says. Mother Theresa was fond of saying that our fundamental task in this life is to learn what it really means to love. And the farther I go along, I come to understand a bit more of the heart-breaking grandeur of what she meant. That we're made for Heaven, and in Heaven, Love is the only currency there is. . .

I am reminded of a joke I heard recently, about a guy who managed to cut a deal to bring some of his wealth with him to Heaven, so he brought a boxload of gold with him when he died. He arrived in Heaven, and everyone was intrigued to see what he'd brought, since it was so unusual for anyone to bring anything with them when they came to Heaven. He brought out his box, and opened it, and the folks who were standing by looked at him quizzically - "Pavement? You brought pavement?"

Joe B said...

Who can be depressed when there's BATS to watch?

RMW said...

Ok Joe, you have to stop taking 5 Excedrin PM's, then drinking a half bottle of wine and forcing yourself to stay awake for 50 hours.

We don't want the maudlin Joe. We want the other fellow who makes the esoteric comments that only slightly insane people understand.

So Joe stop before we have to have an intervention.

Ann said...

I won't help Rick with his intervention joe...this is good stuff!! : ) maybe this is part of the midlife crisis, but I am finding more and more often realizing that priorities need to change...I need to focus more on friends and family rather than the stuff that doesn't matter (work, etc.) Seems the older I get, and also my job... forces me to face the reality of this. It is a hard habit to get into tho! Of course, I'm only 39... ha!

Bethany said...

This post was everything you promised it would be.

I hate the word 'awake'.

The part from when you're twelve is interesting. That happened for me when I was nine and found out we had sold the house and were moving for sure. The memory will definitely be part of my midlife crisis. We never get over our childhoods.

Joe B said...

For those w/o benefit of the message I sent Bethany, be it known that she is agreeing that the prose is "overflowery'. Hey, I bought and paid for that!

Thanks for the feedback Bethie-D!

Eutychus said...

Everyone ought to read Paula's comment real good and slow. You might call it psychology but it sounds like some good theology to me. You can only truly life your life as you are relinquishing it. Life is lived in its passing, so if you're hanging on with white knuckles you're missing out on it altogether. "He who loves his life will lose it, but he who loses his life will find it for eternity."

Eutychus said...

And yes, I realize how easy that is to say when you are as young as I am. I'm sure I'll understand both angles better as I age myself.