Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Midlife Crisis

Normality is a relative term. There was no shortage of naysayers during the days when I jetted around the world. I had an atypical way of funding my travels with no insurance and no one to take care of or depend on other than my own. Thriving on resistance was a strength I had perfected over years of unguided childhood and rather misguided adolescence. To me life was a wild swing of fight or retreat. There was no middle ground, no any other way of living. Once I started to travel, I realized that there was nothing more exhilarating than blasting off and extricating myself from the gravitational pull of societal norms. As long as I was floating in orbit and observing the masses as an outsider, selfishly and weightlessly, I felt safe and content. To me that was normal and everything I had to do to fulfill those peregrinations were well within the parameter of my norm.

I now have a reputable job with insurance and a place to call home. I could be the standard of normal to everyone else. Yet I have never felt so irresolute and disoriented by the daily cycle of rinse and repeat. I assessed my immediate environment obsessively. I dug down deep trying to reconnect with the person that I used to be. Standing in a void I had two options: seeking an adventure or returning to my roots. For practicality reasons I choose the latter. Besides, it is the standard protocol to retrace your path when you get lost on a trail.

Rochester is home. Seeing people I know and love made me feel grounded. They understood my ramble. They empathized with my quandary. They supported my whimsy. Their faith in everything I do gave me a little more faith in myself. Besides, there will always be Rochester, my peace tucked away in a safety deposit box.

I’m calmer now.  I don’t have a solution, or even the sight of one on the distant horizon. However, I have gained some sense of clarity, acceptance and even appreciation for my current state of mind. Midlife crisis isn’t a specific point through the succession of physical years. It happens when you have gotten all the low hanging fruits, met all your basic needs and reached a plateau in life where the next thrill, excitement and major accomplishment is that much harder to obtain. It’s easy to make linear progressions when we’re younger. After a while, those trail markers and mile stones become less defined.

Rather than an intersection or divergent paths I have arrived at an inflection point at a clearing. I could set life on cruise control like I’ve observed from so many others around me or I could stay true to the character that I so painstakingly developed over the years and get creative to find my own meaning. I am a thoughtful and purposeful person. To wonder aimlessly was not how I traveled nor is it a viable option now to drift through life.

It’s true that I’ve put a lot of thoughts into all this lately, so much so that it might even seem self-absorbed. I grew up on my own. I spent a lot of time moving around, making new friends and leaving them behind. Thinking was my way of coping with life. Later on my peculiar allergy to alcohol only reinforced that coping mechanism. Thoughts were my respite. As time went on I have completely relinquished any desire to mask my emotions. To live is to feel. And to really live is to feel something so strongly that you’d give up your life for.

Recently, someone handed me a pill and said, take this, it’ll make everything ok. I looked back and asked, is everything not ok? I realize there is no panacea to my quandary. I’m ok with that. I’m not looking for a quick fix, an easy answer or a temporary escape. I am not sad nor am I looking to be happy. I’m not wishing for some romantic encounter to swipe me off my feet. I’m not looking to save the world, adopt a religion or join a cult. I might be contrary at times but I’m not a contrarian nor is this is a rebellion. I’m not looking to be wild or trying to fulfill some void from my earlier adulthood. I have been wild. I have lived. I don’t need to be different or extreme for shock value. I’m in search of something personal, something meaningful, even something substantial and lasting. 

Thank you for being there for me.