Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Midsummer Life's Dream

Every day, I expect the gremlin known as the Midlife Crisis to be sneaking up on me. Perhaps my secretary will slip it into the inbox on my desk. Or maybe I'll be rummaging through my kid's room looking for the television remote, and I'll spy it underneath the bed. (And hey! That's my hammer under there. I've been looking for that for months.) One of these days, my attention will be diverted to something else--such as wondering about that smoke coming from beneath the hood of my car--and whammo! I'll get hit by the Midlife Crisis gremlin.

It is clear what sparks the emotional freefall that leads to a midlife crisis: it's the first time in your life that you realize you're gonna die. It is no longer an intellectual understanding--we're all part of the circle of life and all that other Disney crap. I'm gonna die. I can feel it in my bones. I no longer feel as if my body can do anything and everything, even though I abuse it.

It all started when I began to feel aches and pains in my knees after playing basketball. That was easy to explain away. Then, a few stray hairs started to grow on my ears and shoulders. It wasn't enough to cause panic. My back occasionally got stiff and sore. Sometimes the words that came out of my mouth sounded exactly like something my father would say. I told myself that none of those things were signs of aging--just little quirks.

Probably the first time I began to doubt my own immortality was when I heard a young woman call U2 an "old" band. And then, one day I yanked too hard on my lower back and felt a sharp pain. I limped around for nearly a week. The first few days were agony. "Uh oh," I thought.

About a three weeks ago, I came as close to seeing the gremlin as I ever have. I had just gotten my hair cut and was looking in the mirror. And there it was! On each side of my head, just at the temple, was a single gray hair. No longer could I deny the real truth: the gremlin is breathing down my neck. My body is changing in ways that only happen to old people.

For the last several years, it has been easy enough for me to convince myself that I am still in the Spring of my life, even if Spring is nearly gone. But now, it has become all too clear: Summer has arrived. And I think it's gonna be hot.


Anonymous eimmas said...

But summer can be fun too, you know...Yes it's hot, can be uncomfortable, but summer means rest, relaxation...The "spring" of your life is not always the best time of your life, is it? That's the time when you've made mistakes, done things you regret...The next part is when you can really learn from your past and appreciate life to the fullest...

I found a lot of white - not gray - hairs on my head the other day. And i'm only 30...if that makes you feel beter.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Lefty said...

I've always loved summer, but what is hard to take is that spring ain't never coming back. If opportunities were missed, they're gone forever.

Yet, I guess the key to a great summer is to look forward rather than pining for the glory days.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Professor said...

I understand the point made by eimmas -- i.e., that summer can be fun and exciting in its own way. However, because spring won't come back, summer can also be dangerous. As Bruce Hornsby once wrote, "The heat makes you do things you might just not do in your right mind." As another man approaching midlife (and wishing for the chance to do some things over), I often find myself facing temptations to take risks that offer little reward other than the insignificant assurance that I've still got "it." Think of the many athletes refuse to go quietly into retirement -- or the many middle-aged husbands seek excitement in the arms of mistresses -- or those who otherwise try to re-invent themselves at midlife. The rewards are notable, but the risks often are much larger.

11:45 AM  

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