Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Midlife Crisis

I'll be thirty-six in 2011.  Am I ready for a midlife crisis?

A little introspection and analysis to mark the new year, and my own belly-on-cardboard-on-the-grassy-hillside slide to forty.

Today I've a feature in the Sydney Morning Herald's 'News Review' weekend lift-out, 'Crisis and the Cure'. It's on the so-called 'midlife crisis'.

It began with research into Relate's findings of an early midlife crisis, and then broadened: Is there such a thing as a midlife crisis at all?  And if so, what causes it, and what can be done about it?  A sample:
In the journal Gerontology, they report no evidence for a pervasive, distinctive middle-age malaise. Instead, middle-aged adults are simply more likely to review their accomplishments, with a new awareness of mortality.
This squares with Sara's experience. "I am feeling the weight of my decisions differently," she says, "and lots of things are irreversible."
Freund and Ritter suggest this isn't a disaster. "Even if this process does not lead to a crisis," they write, "it poses a developmental challenge that needs to be mastered."
Put simply, at some point in our adult life, the scales often fall away. The past seems heavier, the future less open - we have fewer days, less energy. We recognise our failings and delusions. This awareness can be crushing or motivating - the trick is to make the most of it.
This message is particularly poignant for me - this time last year Ruth was still in Emergency.  Happy new year folks.  I hope it's a great one.

(Image: SMH/Rocco Fazzari)


Elisabeth said...

I remember when Peter O'Connor first wrote a book on the midlife crisis, which he situated in folks aged around 35.

Here you are complaining about the slide to forty, Damon. How about the slide to sixty.

My siblings encompass a twenty year span. The oldest is nearly seventy, the youngest tipping in at fifty.

Age can be a state of mind, but it's a powerful one nevertheless in this time of wishful thinking. In the end time catches up with us all.

Happy New year, Damon.

Damon Young said...

Actually, I wasn't complaining. Didn't you ever slide down a hill on cardboard? It's great! (If a little painful or precarious at times.)

Happy new year to you, Elisabeth.

Catherine said...

Damon, it's so great to read your ponderings. I remember you sitting and debating / hypothesising at our kitchen table as a little boy and not much has changed except now the subject is midlife crisis (of which I can relate to and I am finding it to be wonderful and very liberating actually) ! How time flies. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts, and please say hi to your amazing and wonderful mother who I still adore even after all these years ! Warmest regards and a happy new year to you, Catherine Layland (Diggins)

Damon Young said...

Catherine! It's been a good thirty years. I hope you're well. I certainly will pass along your good wishes to my mum.

I don't remember much debating/hypothesising, though I do recall the many thousands of creamed honey sandwiches your mum made for me. Those were the days...