Is this a Mid-Life Crisis?

You often hear about people turning 40 going through a "mid-life crisis", where they question their identity, buy expensive toys to make them feel young again, and try to come to grips with being old enough that they have to be "mature" about everything. I canít help but wonder, if what Iím feeling now, is just that. Thereís that feeling like Iíve not done anything with my life, or that Iím not going to. Thereís the feeling of emptiness that I donít remember having as youth. Thereís also that longing for expensive toys and things to rekindle my miss-spent youth (but I canít afford them now). It may just be that Iím too pensive about this sort of thing, but is it less of a mid-life crisis, if youíre only 25?

Iíve become incredibly cynical in my ripe old age of 25, I donít know where all the "little joys" of my life have gone. I used to be involved in photography, music, poetry, theater, etc, etc, etc and found great beauty in these things. In High school and college I was an artist (poet, photographer, actor, etc), and a people person (not outgoing by any stretch of the imagination, but a guy you could talk to, and for some reason, people did). Somewhere along the way Iíve lost all that, and I just donít think I have the eye for beauty that I once had. I still enjoy "the arts", but the passion is gone, there isnít any sense of wonderment, no deep emotional reaction to anything of the sort. In the past I could converse on the virtues of love and life and the value of all humanity. Now, Iím no longer sure how much of humanity has any value. Iím no longer the friend anybody turns to for a shoulder, an ear, or any emotional support. Did I use up my soul in my youth? Or just my emotions?

Is it our curse to lose our passions by fulfilling them? Everybody talks about, how as teenagers our hormones rule us, and at the time we lament all the extra emotional baggage. Yet for most of us, those times are the only time when we are full of passion for everything we do (except school but that breeds itís own apathy). Now that weíre older it seems, that if you pour all of your passions into your relationship, your art will suffer, and vice versa. Is the only true art brought out of pain or passion? It must be, for there is very little art of contentment, very little passion of the ordinary. I have spent so much time "making art", but only while I was lamenting something or other or rejoicing in something, what other inspiration is there? Iíve got a beautiful wife, an amazing son, and a great peace in my life, but no art. How can art compete with family? Or is family the art of an adult (heaven forbid Iím one of those now)?

The sad part is that I still long for the creative outlet that I had when I was an "artist", but I donít have the vision for it, the desire to create is there, but the inspiration isnít. I guess I fear boredom, I want the Chinese curse of living in interesting times. Strangely though, the times I FEEL the most, are those strange moments where Iím not doing that much of anything, just spending time with my son, reading books to him, watching TV together, or just playing with him. Years ago, I spent much time in thought and discussion about innumerable things (personal rights, the evils of the world, the nature of humanity, the virtues of love, and the ills of the human condition). Somehow now, for the life of me, I canít figure out how anything, or anybody, really matters when compared to the joy of my son. Is this just parenthood, or have I lost my connection with humanity?

It seems that many people my age are just settling into a mold of what their future will be. They are figuring (or have already figured) out who they will be spending the rest of their lives with, what they will do each day when they go to work, and setting up goals for where they want to be in 5, 10, 30 years. Iím sure that my life seems that way as well I guess, but it really isnít. While I enjoy the work Iím doing now, I donít see myself in the same position in 20 years. I donít seem to be able to plan more than a year in advance because Iím either too flighty or unpredictable. For that matter why should I waste all my time planning for a future, when I can spend the time living?

When you go on job interviews they ask you where you see yourself in 5 years, and I have the hardest time with that question because I donít see myself in five years anymore. I used to see the futures laid out for me, and how my life could/would play out, but now it seems that I canít even see next week. Iíve grown very present in my existence, my actions are forever planning for the future, working for the future, bettering my "station" to ensure the future, but Iím really just living day to day, moment to moment. One of the strangest things about that is that I "see" myself living for another hundred years or more, but I donít know what I plan on doing. So, if this is my mid-life crisis, what am I supposed to do with the last 75 years?

Charles Pillsbury III (06/01)