I’ve seen other people have a mid-life crisis where they buy a banging sportscar (note: use of word banging is merely my attempt to feel younger and more relevant) or trade in a spouse for a newer model. My fast-approaching high-school reunion (tomorrow, and no, I’m saying which one) has made me realize that I really need to get onto one of my own and soon. Otherwise, I’ll be retired by the time I actually get around to it.
But, what purpose does a mid-life crisis actually serve?
I think, and it is only my opinion, is that those people who suffer said affliction come to a realization that they haven’t achieved all those things they set out to do when they were young. Some compensate by trying to relive their youth through fast cars, hair weaves, inappropriate clothes (pop collar shirts unbuttoned to reveal your man-sweater complete with heavy gold chain; I mean, really?) or young lovers. Others create the so-called “Bucket list” to work through.
All in an effort to be young and hip and maybe fulfill some of our dreams.
The thing about dreams is, they change. Sometimes they become irrelevant, sometimes more important dreams come up and depose the old ones. We also sometimes learn to refine those dreams from the broad ethereal ones to something more concrete.
Now, having a mid-life crisis isn’t something to do lightly. If you buy the wrong car, or get the wrong hair weave you just look ridiculous. If you get the young lover and actually discover you still love your spouse, you can never go back.
So, rather than move serruptitiously into the mid-life crisis (or MLC as I will refer to it from this moment on) I decided to examine the my goals from when I was young.
Let’s see. I wanted to have super-powers by the time I was twenty. <pats self down> Nope, didn’t get those. In hindsight, that’s probably a very good thing. Considering my low opinion of people who speed through playground zones near my house, my lack of super abilities has meant the continued survival of many evil-doers. Chalk one up to dream unfulfilled.
I have, however, written a book that is going to be published next year about a boy who decides to be a superhero. Maybe the dream didn’t fade after all. I think it was probably just rechanneled to something less destructive.
Um, how about the one where I become immortal? Nope, that one didn’t happen either. Still, I DID write a story about an immortal who lost everything but her immortality and the lengths she went to trying to become powerful again. Not a very nice person at all. Whew! Dodged a bullet on that one.
I wanted a family of my own when I was young. Check. Got one of those, and a great one at that. I’ve also got more friends than I ever thought possible, so I’m very lucky that way. Big checkmark now.
Rich and famous? Nope, but that was never a goal. I mean, who wouldn’t like to be able to do whatever they want whenever they want? Still, it wasn’t something that I ever got too worried about.
That leaves one last dream worth talking about. Being a professional writer.
When I conceived that particular goal, I had no idea what it meant. It was infinitely more probable than getting super-powers or immortality but it was also infinitely harder. We comic book readers know that the first two only need timing and luck. The last one needs luck, sure, but it also requires hard work, perseverence, patience and, well, more hard work.
It also means defining for oneself what is meant by professional.
In my case, I now know I want my work published and generating enough income that I can retire earlier from my current career. I also want to be able to write until I can’t write any more and still expect to see my stuff in print. Anne McCaffery and Terry Pratchett are two of my favorite authors and that is exactly what they continue to do even now.
While I can’t see into the future, I do know I’ve had some short stories published AND I have the aforementioned Boy Superhero novel coming out next year along with some self-published work.
I do believe that dream is coming true.
That can mean only one thing: MLC averted. Sorry Mr. Car Salesman, but please cancel the order on that sportscar.