There is much derision and mockery of the midlife crisis, most of it focused on men. Men with new gym memberships, new wardrobes, guitars, girlfriends and motorbikes and a few gold necklaces and articles of speedo swimwear thrown into the mix, are the butt of the same sort of humour that catergorises angry or outspoken women as being ‘on the rag’ or having PMT.
Perhaps men are more obvious targets than women of the same age who are considered to be going through ‘the change’ and generally depicted as not having as much fun. Instead of a gym membership and new hobbies they have disorientation, weight gain and unruly hair growths.
Either way the jokes are a way of taking away the power of what could be seen as an anarchic act, behaviour that is railing against the pricks and conventions of right behaviour.
When the young rebel, they can change the world. They create art and perspectives and new regimes or fall by the wayside of drugs and early death. They see a world they need to find a place in, and they don’t necessarily choose to accept this, even if it causes suffering and rage.
As we hit our middle years, we have found our place and some of us have found that place doesn’t fit and that all the energy that we have poured into it seems unacknowledged or wasted.
I have friends in their fifties who have committed their lives to various professions or workplaces who are now tossed on the waste heap, undermined and broken.
Other people I know have killed themselves; a tragedy that I had always thought was the bastion of youth and the mentally ill, but is also an answer to those who have walked a path that led nowhere, and have no energy or strength left to find another approach.
I see middle aged people who look in the mirror and see a face and body that doesn’t fit their memory of themselves and their appearance either needs to be adapted or accepted, derided and ignored.
This physical malaise is symptomatic of an internal disquiet. Again it’s about an exterior world that doesn’t fulfil the needs of the interior one.
Older generations chose to accept. Accept the redundancies, the rejections, the disillusions. Create mockeries of those who don’t buckle down, whilst making the best of things for themselves.
I’m writing this as an observer as I have so many crisis of directions in my life that are simply ‘me’ related rather than age related, however for some time I have been seeing so many friends who are in dark hard places, and whilst some have crumbled, others have pushed the status quo, challenged convention and done amazing things.
Crisis can create revelations and great, positive change. Deride it a your risk.