I'm scared to put up a post this morning! Afraid a spoof would be considered real or that a real post won't be taken seriously. Don't know what to say, and you know how rare that is.
I'm not feeling much in a fooling mood on this April Fool's day. Instead I'd like to offer a small word of encouragement to any of you youngsters(!) who happen to find yourselves between your late 30s and early 50s and not particularly happy. This is a quotation from an article by Jonathan Rausch called "The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis," from The Atlantic, November 17th, 2014:
"As I moved into my early 50s, I hit some real setbacks. Both of my parents died, one of them after suffering a terrible illness while I watched helplessly. My job disappeared when the magazine I worked for was restructured. An entrepreneurial effort—to create a new online marketplace that would match journalists who had story ideas with editors looking for them—ran into problems. My shoulders, elbows, and knees all started aching. And yet the fog of disappointment and self-censure began to lift, at first almost imperceptibly, then more distinctly. By now, at 54, I feel as if I have emerged from a passage through something. But what?
"Long ago, when I was 30 and he was 66, the late Donald Richie, the greatest writer I have known, told me: 'Midlife crisis begins sometime in your 40s, when you look at your life and think, Is this all? And it ends about 10 years later, when you look at your life again and think, Actually, this is pretty good.' In my 50s, thinking back, his words strike me as exactly right. To no one’s surprise as much as my own, I have begun to feel again the sense of adventure that I recall from my 20s and 30s. I wake up thinking about the day ahead rather than the five decades past. Gratitude has returned."
Those words of Donald Richie (who writes about Japan) resonate for me. I'm very aware that this is the happiest time of my life. I've had good times and bad times, but never have a felt such satisfaction in life, and such true gratitude to be alive in the world. It's really the most distinct feature of the decade of my 50s for me, this deep heartfelt happiness. So if you're anywhere in the "midlife crisis" period and wondering if this is all there is, take heart: you may well have much to look forward to. No foolin'.
(Thanks to dear S.)
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Featured Comments from:
Jamietie: "As a 35-year-old feeling many of those things these days, I needed to hear that; no joke!"
Neil Partridge: "I have aged sufficiently to now be considered one of your youngsters (!) and have spells of melancholy. I do sense the impending arrival of a flame, or at least a spark, of satisfaction and contentment. Photography, even just reading about others doing it, fans that flame and your blog is my personal pair of bellows. I need to work on the analogy somewhat but I hope you get the gist."
CB: "I'm 49 and my 40s have been a struggle (death of both parents, first-born committed to an institution for nine months, second-born diagnosed with autism, end of a 15-year relationship with their mother, financial insecurity in an ever more right-wing UK, a frustrating day job, increasing hearing loss, an often overwhelming sense of complete emptiness and a concomitant anhedonia that I assume must be related to grief). There's no guarantee life will get better, but this post offers some hope. I'm also now with the most wonderful woman, my kids are all right and I get moments of something like sudden shafts of sunlight. Thank you Mike."
Alan Kett: "66th year. 'Liberated' from corporate America three years ago. Get to do my own things now. Never better!"
Earl Dunbar: "Now on the back side of mid 60s, I have felt, really, really good about myself and my life in general for the last six years or so. It came after come to realization (and some realizations) that occurred in mid-life but were not because of mid-life. My Dad died prematurely due to medical error three and a half years ago; I came through that fine and feel like I could make it through most anything. I feel younger than at 55 even if my body doesn't think so."