Thursday, September 10, 2009

Till 120

I think I started my mid-life crisis in 1988. I was watching the Olympics and it dawned on me that these gymnasts were younger than I was and by the time they were my age, they would be over the hill. I felt something similar watching the Mets in 1986 and knowing that the stars on that team were right around my age, and by that time I had accomplished, well, nothing, and there they were celebrating and partying because they were champions.

I always had the fantasy that I'd be doing something (playing music, writing a poem, fixing a plumbing leak, whatever) and some super-important-celebrity-famous person would saunter by and see or hear me and be impressed. We'd strike up a friendship and, poof, I'd be famous -- first by association and then later by virtue of my own innate skills. I always saw myself as "that kid that so-and-so discovered". Maybe it would be a good question I asked when I happened into an elevator ride with someone famous that would convince this star that I had a keen, inquisitive mind and should be encouraged. Who knows. I just always thought that I was destined for such stardom.

The mid-life crisis, I think, is the moment when you realize that the odds are now not just against such a chance, but substantially against it. I had 40 years to make something of myself, get discovered or win the lottery. It hasn't happened. I'll never be seen as "the new kid" or "that young up and comer". The crisis is the realization that with every day, the chances of my reaching immortality through renown are reducing at an inversely exponential rate. When I was in college, I didn't want to watch TV shows about being in college, partially because I didn't need to see a fictionalization of what I dealt with all the time, but also because I resented others who weren't in college gaining status based on something which I was doing simply to exist. And maybe this is why people who have mid-life crises sieze the chance to do something outlanding -- buy a car, have a torrid affair. The decision is made to create status: to feel wanted or to be attractive to the masses. If not by someone else or through the kind of talent and hard work that validates others' ascension, then by an act of selfishness.

So that's it. I'll never be found by a VIP who then takes me away from the drudgery of every day life. I won't be stumbled upon as the next big thing.

But I have had over 20 years of a mid-life crisis and I have gotten used to this let down. I have learned to celebrate who I am and make the most of it -- to achieve immortality through my family and my work. Sure, there won't be a bio-pic about my life or mass market paperback exposes when I pass from this mortal coil, but I think I'm getting to be OK with that.

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