When I started this blog about adventures in middle age writing, it dawned on me that one day I might have to write about a “so called” mid-life crisis. I’ve heard about them all my life but honestly kind of thought they were an over-dramatized myth made up by bored housewives and underpaid balding men.
I thought they were about things like changing careers, being dissatisfied with your marriage, needing a makeover, etc … and for some people that may be what happens. I don’t know. I’m old enough to know I don’t know much and that’s okay.
For me, mid-life crisis came more like it did for Billy Crystal in CITY SLICKERS. Okay, so how old is that movie reference?
I even thought, at one point, I had escaped the possibility of having a mid-life crisis by adopting a new career along the way of life and finally settling into it full time. I’m a writer. But I’ve always been a writer dabbling on the side of whatever else I was doing. One day I just decided that’s all I wanted to do, so I did. There was no crisis about it … so you can see my faulty outlook.
Mine came by way of a flat tire and a dead car battery 3 miles down a pot-hole laden road in a back canyon of New Mexico complete with rude 4-wheeler enthusiasts, gun fire, extremely loud country radio music echoing off the granite walls from sun-up to sun-down, and a teenager who decided to run away in the dark.
When I say I’d had it up to my eyeballs, I wasn’t joking.
It was supposed to be my writing weekend away from home in the peace, quiet, and serenity of a back country canyon. A trickling stream, a cool breeze on a hot summer day, steaks over the camp fire … and lots and lots of words on the page. That was the idea anyway.
Four and half months later it ended with the realization that I was actually happy with who I am even if no one else is. I asked for peace. That was my wish, that’s what I wanted … or as Billy Crystal found in CITY SLICKERS … it was my one thing. I just wanted to be at peace with myself.
It’s kind of funny to look back and realize that’s what I was seeking that weekend in New Mexico all those months ago – a physical example of a spiritual journey.
The spiritual journey was every bit as harrowing and noisy and un-peaceful as that camping trip but it lasted a hell of a lot longer and came at me in all directions. I not only questioned all the things you might expect – marriage, career, purpose in life – I questioned my faith, my beliefs, my ability to love, my needs, my wants, my desires, my passions. Anything and everything became fair game for tossing on the trash pile and burning in cataclysmic effigy to some god or other.
I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, however, I hope everyone has to go through it at some point because you cry and then laugh, you hope and dream, you clear the cobwebs from the recesses of your brain with a toothpick, all the while feeling like someone is ripping the skin off your body with their teeth, one layer at a time. It hurts like hell.
But at the other side … this peace is worth it.