Rivers of words have been poured on the subject of the midlife crisis. This “crisis” occurs at the intersection of two periods – the dawn of “living the future” and the rise of “living the past”. Until you reach the ripe age of the middle, you live the dream believing that anything is possible; the sky is the limit. But then it dawns on you that you haven’t even reached the treetops, never mind the sky. So you start thinking – hey, if I haven’t done it so far, I never will! I’m too old for that! It’s only downhill from here! And since the future doesn’t matter anymore, you start living – or rather re-living – the past.
This is really unfortunate. People waste their best years mourning the demise of their youth rather than planning the second half of their lives. This has a lot to do with the middle class syndrome, in which people are trained to serve some invisible tyrant by working their ass off all their lives. If they take a rest, dire straits will surely come upon them. Middle classers who are out of work for more than a few weeks are ridiculed and frowned upon for being lazy, stupid, or just plain weird. The constant pressure from their fellow class members is immense. It is this peer pressure, however, that keeps the middle class producing the goods and services the entire society relies on, so we can’t really do without it.
The midlife crisis is a direct result of the middle class syndrome. Unable to find relief from this peer pressure, middle classers sooner or later rebel in the only way they know (and can afford to) – spending a sizeable chunk of money on some item they don’t need, which reminds them of their long gone youth. That’s actually not such a bad outlet, and can sometime lead to positive outcomes. In some cases, though, newly inducted members of the middle age fall into a pit of despair and can take a while before pulling themselves out of it. In the next post I’ll explore ways to prevent this from happening.