Half-life birthday

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.

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6 responses to “Half-life birthday

  1. Cresting. Interesting. Happy birthday, Jennifer. It’s a slick slide down the slippery slope unless you wear cleats! Do wear the helmet! I enjoyed your post.

    • Jennifer Barricklow

      Thank you, Carol Ann! I have had a happy birthday. Cleats sound like a good idea, though I keep seeing myself in some kind of low-slung vehicle with wheels. I suppose I could use the cleats in a Fred Flinstone-like fashion…I’ll just have to fight the lunatic desire to fling my feet in the air and holler “Whahoo!”

  2. Happy Birthday, dear blogging buddy…
    I relate to your post…almost too much.
    I’ll wear a helmet if you do.
    kisses–
    jane

  3. Happy belated birthday, Jennifer! Don’t worry if you can’t find your helmet. Just get out there and live it! Just don’t blow the walnuts off of your birthday cake. Anne

    • Jennifer Barricklow

      Thanks, Anne! Since that memorable day, I have never put nuts on a birthday cake, and I have developed other culinary strategies for coping with spectacular layer cake failure: trifle! Yum! Too bad I didn’t know about that when we were teenagers. (But the story wouldn’t have been nearly as hilarious…)

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