Saturday, June 07, 2008
I met an interesting nurse this week, while I was having my nuclear heart stress test prior to my shoulder replacement surgery June 16th.
While I was lying there, reacting to the dye they were injecting me with, she chatted me up and asked a lot of questions about why my dh had gone into the Air Force at age 40. I told her it was a "male mid-life crisis", lol, and we talked about where we've lived. She said she noticed that I'd turned the big 5-0 this year, and so had she. She then asked me if I was where I'd thought I'd be in my life, at this age.
I had to say "no". I'm nowhere near where I thought I'd be right now. I thought I'd have gotten published (came awful close once), we'd be living in a bigger house, I'd have my own home office - not a corner of the family room, I'd be going to RWA Nationals every year...I could go on and on.
She said she wasn't where she'd wanted to be either. I said, "at least you have a career" (a very specialized field). Surprisingly, she said it wasn't what she started out training for, but had been divorced at age 27 with two little kids under the age of four, so she'd had to train for something that would pay the most money.
It got me thinking about how we re-assess our goals in life. Do we do it consciously? (and I think we should) Do we float along with whatever life throws at us? Did we ever think when we got married how much our life could - and notice I say couldbe restricted by our partners career, needs, health, etc.? Did we ever consider that we might end up divorced? Or, alone, with a great career, but no close family?
We think about all these things relating to our characters. We know we have to "turn up the torch" to teach them the lessons they need to learn from life. We love our HEA because they rarely happen in real life. We read inspirational books that tell us to "take risks", "fight for your success", or conversely, "live for your family", and "a person on their deathbed never thinks about all the hours they spent at the office; they regret the hours they didn't spend with their family".
We all make choices throughout our lives for various reasons: contingency commitments, health issues, financial ups and downs, staying in a marriage or relationship because it's either great, or because it's miserable, but we think we'd never survive on our own.
The "mid-life" crisis is a very real emotional and developmental phase of life. I believe it happens to men *and* women. It's a time of changing our goals, and we hopefully can make more informed choices than we did in our '20's or '30's. Rather than flail about in depression at not achieving all we wanted to by a certain birthday, how much better to concentrate on what we have achieved, and realize that we can accomplish more now that we've got some life experience under our belts. If it's time to change your goals, take the time to really think things through. The second half of your life is about completion, renewal, and growth.
If we want all these things for our characters, how much more should we want them for ourselves?
P.S. If you only see one movie this summer, take in "Prince Caspian: The Chronicles of Narnia. It's a wonderful action movie, with strong allegories on how to live your life to the full. Your kids will love the adventure and sword-fighting, and I guarantee you'll love the layered story by C.S. Lewis. Now, there was an author who understood about changing goals, and recovering from the sufferings of life. And look what he achieved? A successful career, a joyful marriage, and a series of books that have inspired millions.