Today I am celebrating my half-life birthday, the 45th anniversary of my arrival on this planet. (I figure 90 years is a reasonably optimistic goal to aim for, and it’s not as though I’ll get in trouble if I actually overshoot it.) The number and the birthday itself don’t bother me; as a matter of fact, I find it rather exhilarating to think of myself at the top of a long, steep slope: the going should be easier from here on out because I’ll have gravity in my favor.
No, the real struggle I have is with the midlife crisis that settled in on me a while ago like a dense, enervating fog. The first stage, which I have dubbed “The Year of Living Regretfully,” was spent in exhaustive (and exhausting) retrospection and analysis. During this discouraging period, I examined nearly every decision I ever made and found that I did rather poorly in all but a handful of instances. (There are reasons this kind of experience ought to be reserved for the dying: it just about does you in, and after you’ve been through it, death seems like it would be a welcome relief.)
Recently, I seem to have undergone a mysterious seismic shift into a more energetic phase, which has both good and bad points. Instead of poring over past actions or pondering future possibilities, I find myself wrangling with a “Damn the torpedoes—full speed ahead!” mentality that verges on the dangerous. I spend enormous time and energy dissuading myself from all sorts of crazy-stupid actions. A part of me has reverted to invincible adolescence, leaving the rest of me to ride herd on a bewildering progression of bizarre impulses and cockamamie ideas, all of which seem unbearably attractive when they cross my mind.
Remember the long, steep slope I mentioned above, the proverbial hill that I have now crested? Today I have the most insane urge to let go of the brakes and hurtle toward the bottom, hell-bent for leather. I just hope my wiser self will prevail enough that I wear a helmet.