Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Leap of Faith

Few events are as healthy and potentially rewarding as a good midlife crisis. I should know. I'm in the middle of my third.

Taking a hard look at the aspects of life one does and does not like is healthy. Life is too short to spend much time being unhappy. Figure out what ails you, do what you can to deal with it and move on.

My first midlife crisis took place in Myrtle Beach one February back in the 90s. I added a few days to the front of a conference to enjoy time to myself, great seafood, and walks on the beach. My partner couldn't come with me...and I was glad.

It was bitter cold. Those lovely ocean breezes aren't nearly so nice in subfreezing temperatures. The hotel was far, far away from any commercial areas and I didn't have a car. I spent three days in my hotel room smoking cigarettes and writing in my journal about how my life sucked.

The constellation of my unhappiness revolved around my partner. We definitely weren't on the same page. I felt trapped. I knew what I had to do but fear of what the change would mean prevented me from taking action. So I simmered.

I got a call a few days after my return from a guy who'd apparently slept in my bed the entire time I was gone. He was in love with my partner and wanted me to know. I said he could have him and hung up. I met my partner at the door when he got home from work, asked for his key, and gave him an hour to get his crap and go. Crisis resolved.

My second midlife crisis was essentially a repeat of the first. I turned on the archiving feature of the yahoo account we shared. The very next day after work I found interesting and enlightening chat conversations between him and three different guys about how great hooking up had been. Can you say pissed?

I printed out the conversations, colored the damning statements with a yellow highlighter, stapled the pages together and presented the lot to him when he got home. Get out. The next day I changed the locks. Crisis resolved.

This time, the constellation of my unhappiness revolves entirely around me. Except for the choices I make, practically everything about my life is perfect. I have a wonderful partner, a job I love, two adorable little dogs, great friends and all the creature comforts. It comes down to putting on my big boy pants and doing what I need to do instead of what I want to do.

Were it not for the previous crises, I'd be more upset about my current dilemma. I can't worry about whether or not I can reach the other side. I'll never make it if I don't try.

Sometimes you just have to close your eyes, jump as hard as you can and hope you'll make it to the other side. I'm still eyeballing the distance and convincing myself I can do it. I'm going to need to shed some of this old baggage and then I'll be ready for the leap.

Until then (and probably even more so afterward), I remain...

The Crotchety Old Man, Prince of Gripes :-)

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