A Muckle of Midlife Crises

Posted on October 22, 2011



There has been a spate (This is the first time the writer has written this word) of articles lately about the warning signs that one is going through a midlife crisis.  These recent articles are different than the last caboodle (synonym of “spate”) of such articles in that they have been written more recently, which in turn, differed from the last group of such articles.  In fact, there are so many of these articles coming out all the time, that if you are a Midlifer and you aren’t going through a midlife crisis, don’t worry.  You can catch the next muckle (another synonym of “spate”) of articles, which will be coming out at any moment.

A brief history: The term “midlife crisis” was invented in 1965 by Elliott Jaques to describe a “period of dramatic self-doubt that is felt by some individuals in the middle years or middle age of life, as a result of sensing the passing of their own youth and the imminence of their old age.”  Before the invention of the midlife crisis, people preferred to occupy their time figuring out how to do the cha cha or whether the Russians were going to invade us and make everyone drink borscht.  After the midlife crisis was invented, people could then start to fret about their lives sliding down the hair-and-slime-infested-drain-hole-of-the-shower-stall of life, thereby justifying the purchase of large, expensive two or four wheeled sports vehicles. 

An exhaustive 10 minute survey of the latest articles about midlife crisis will now focus on one found on www.about.com and titled “Symptoms of Midlife Crisis.”  Two symptoms are of special note:

Feeling a need for adventure and change: The article cites the purchase of a sports car for a man and the hanging out in bars and coming home at 3AM each evening for a woman.  It goes on to advise that “Skydiving and hanging out in biker bars is better than sitting home alone wondering what your spouse is up to.” 

A Loss of interest in things that used to be important.  According to the article, Jason thinks his wife has gone off the deep end. “His wife had gone from a ‘staight laced Christian’ to a woman who questioned whether or not there was a God. After 23 years in a career as a nurse she quit her job. According to Jason, she wanted to go back to school full time and major in philosophy.”

While the thought of a passel (yes, another one) of people over age 50 suddenly hanging out in biker bars or skydiving can be pretty unsavory (think paunchy bikers raining down on an unsuspecting public), it is the part about ordinary people suddenly wanting to study philosophy that is of greatest concern. 

Philosophy has always had the potential of wreking havoc on civilized society, since it is historically something only philosophers can make any sense of.  If hordes of nurses start becoming philosophers, patients, when requesting pain meds, will instead be subjected to a lengthy discourse on Epicurus’ theories of pain vs pleasure.  Customer service personnel, rather than allowing people to return anything, will instead share with unhappy customers the Hellenistic teachings of Stoicism.  You get the idea.

In sum, if you feel like you are having a midlife crisis, try extending yourself to someone who is going through a real life crisis.  Or, if you question what you are up to in life, it might mean that you aren’t up to enough.  Either way, try creating a midlife vision.  It’s way more powerful than a midlife crisis.