Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mid life crisis or opportunity

I looked in the mirror one morning and I did not recognize the person that looked back at me. When did all these wrinkles happen and where did the spark in my eyes go? Where did my life go? This or some version of this seems to be the opening line of many people who come to see me lately.

In the middle of my life's journey I found myself deep in the woods having lost my way. The words were spoken by Dante ages ago. Today we call it midlife crisis, but the story is the same. We spend half of our lives building an elaborate castle to house and safeguard our precious and fragile ego only to realize that our castle has become a guilded cage which we desperately want to escape.

For many people, middle life is a bumpy mostly boring road with many losses and plenty of disappointments. Careers have become repetitive and uninspiring, marriages passionless, health temperamental and subject to the slings and arrows of aging and all of a sudden mortality looms larger than life. Hello depression my old friend.

However, right there in the middle of the dark woods often lies a new and exciting path if we can muster the courage to follow it. Luminous cases have encouraged and continue to inspire me: The middle age woman who decided to take flying lessons and in so doing fulfill some part of her childhood dream to become an astronaut; The man who having followed someone else's dreams and found himself in a suffocating career decided to rekindle his childhood passion and start drawing again, he is a superb cartoonist; The wonderful Lady who allowed herself to fall in love for the first time in her life; The man who picked up the guitar again after 30 long years and found a passion he had thought dead. I can keep going, but I think you get the point. Finding the courage to take the first step into this new path is often difficult and requires support and encouragement but as the poet said: I chose the road less travelled by and it made all the difference. I should also add the difference between stagnation and depression and a whole new and exciting way to transcend midlife angst.