My midlife crisis began with my illness.
My illness set me back. My illness reflected my mortality back at me.
I recovered, but it wasn’t easy. My condition was a reminder that I was no longer so young and invincible.
I recovered from my illness. I recovered to return to a job I didn’t like. I recovered to no wife. I recovered to a family I wasn’t close to. I recovered, but there were no hobbies to recover to. No dog. No cat. No aquarium with fish. I returned to nothing but my days and nights of staring down Father Time.
Father time, my only companion. Father Time, neither friend nor nemesis since I refuse to be provoked by him. Father Time who I refuse to befriend since he gives me so little in return for my companionship.
I am nothing special to Father Time. He treats me with the same regard he gives everybody else. He has no special affinity for me and my plight, so I cannot offer him kindness or any of the attention he doesn’t offer me. Father Time is selfish, offering me nothing but his time, the same damned thing he offers anybody else.
My midlife crisis began when I realized I was living for nothing. My midlife crisis began when I accepted I had grown older and nothing was going to be as easy as when I was younger. Learning new things wasn’t going to be easy since I’d lost all curiosity. My patience and tolerance had grown weak along with my muscles and bones. Going places requires movement, which was easier a long time ago when I was young and strength and fluidity came naturally. Friendships and romance require effort, and I’d long ago forgotten about the rewards of effort. And relationships may end in failure. When you’re young, there’s plenty of time to fail and recover. But I’m older and there’s much less time for me to recover, so I wisely ensure I never fail.
Getting the kind of woman I wanted wasn’t going to be easy. I was older and uglier than I was 30 years before. I had money saved in preparation for my exodus from living. I had money, but not enough to merit the 25-year-old doll I’d like. And I didn’t lead the lifestyle to attract a professional-type woman. I didn’t lead the kind of lifestyle to attract the kind of woman who still cared about living. So I gave up on ever finding a woman who might care.
And I didn’t want to think about improving my job. I only had a few years left before I could retire early. Since I’d never gone anywhere or done anything, my money had accumulated. My stockpile of petty wealth was all I had. I decided to wait my working days out instead of starting over. Who’s dumb enough to start over past 50? All that effort at learning new skills. All that training and studying? Who needs the headaches and frustration when you can coast into an early retirement in a few years?
It was all going to be so hard, so I stopped caring. And I stopped trying. I stopped caring about my job. I just waited it out. And I quit caring about women. I quit caring about my health and appearance. I quit caring whether my children liked me or not. So long as they pretended with birthday and Christmas cards, that was enough.
What was the point in change, after all, when my illness proved to me I was on the downward curve toward death? Who cares if death comes tomorrow or another 20 years? 20 years when I’ve already lived past 70. Compared to 70, either tomorrow or 20 years is a drop in the bucket, so why care about either one?
My illness came at 50. That was two decades ago. It was a grim reminder that old age was coming. It wasn’t going to be pleasant. It wasn’t something to look forward to. It was looming in just a few years. It was right around the corner. It wasn’t something I wanted, but I knew I couldn’t avoid it. So I prepared by accepting it’s approach with solemnity and apathy. I accepted it’s coming stoically. I decided to simply accept it no matter what it brought. I decided to let my old age have its way with me. I decided not to fight since only an idiot fights against his own mortality.
What’s the point? What’s the point in caring about jobs and women and a quality of life when there’s nothing worth living for?
That’s how I handled my midlife crisis. I just quit caring. See, there is no crisis when you just don’t care.
After my illness, I took some time off for a road trip. I drove across the country. It did nothing to help. I saw things I’d never seen, but I couldn’t forget about the job I had to return to after the trip. And the miles did nothing to erase the reality of the women I never had and the children who never adored me the way I wished they had.
I never worked hard to achieve anything. I spent my life in a job that came to me easily. A job that required no special skill. A job that carried a mediocre wage and merited no prestige. A job that I grew to hate, but, at least I didn’t have to work especially hard.
I’ve never worked especially hard. The harder work than the 35 years in my menial job would have been finding something else to do. The harder work was finding a better, more suitable way of spending my 8 to 5 out there in the world. Instead, I chose to accept what was handed to me, regardless of its fit.
I’m over 70 now. I’m old. Nothing’s easy. People aren’t easy. Working’s a thing of the past. Becoming the kind of person my family and neighbors would respect isn’t easy. Walking and bending aren’t easy. My eyesight’s grown worse. Everything is a strain.
Nothing’s easy anymore. It hasn’t been for decades. So why try changing anything now when it’s all so difficult?