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Making the most of a midlife crisis

Midlife crisis.

Am I having one?

Am I old enough to have one? If so, may I have another?

Actually, I think “crisis” is the wrong word. It should be a midlife “opportunity.”

Of course many opportunities are born of crisis. If you’re in a plane about to crash, do you strap yourself in and accept the inevitable, or do you don a parachute and jump?

Me? Hand me that parachute. Or a surfboard.

I turned 42 in January. A month later, I purchased a new surfboard, using Christmas cash from family members. Each time I squeeze my aging body into my skin-tight wet suit and paddle the board gamely into the frigid sea, I’m not thinking crisis. I’m thinking, “Dear Lord, don’t let me die.”

Or should that be: “Thank you Lord for this opportunity to die.”

Death, let’s be honest here, is a big part of the whole midlife crisis/opportunity thing. We all reach that point when we becoming increasingly aware of death, and the illusion of immortality falls away. Some people, accepting the inevitable physical and mental deterioration, set their lives on cruise control. Others grab the wheel and take a surprise left turn into uncharted territory.

While enjoying a second honeymoon period with surfing, I’ve rediscovered the magic of music, particularly with percussion, and have found myself performing ... in front of real live people!

The last two years have been a period of discovery and rediscovery that don’t seem to be hampered in any way by the fact that I’m not getting any younger.

For many, the term midlife is synonymous with decline. The truth is, a person with a significant accumulation of experience and savvy, is surprisingly prepared to try and accomplish news things.

In other words, you can teach an old dog new tricks! But it’s not easy.

Taking advantage of mid-life opportunities involves hard work, facing your fears, trial and error and, of course, having a large supply of ibuprofen on hand.

Those experiencing midlife often encounter the the all-to-familiar wishful thinking that our lives could be complete and fulfilling “If only. …”

You know what I’m talking about. The potentially dangerous thinking that “if only” I could do something big and different in my life I could break out of my cocoon and become the butterfly I was destined to be.

Blah, blah, blah.

It’s all about attitude.

There are people who reach middle age and say, “Oh no! My life’s half over. I might as well just curl up and die.”

And there’s some people, like me, who say “Hey! My life’s only half over. What else can I do?”

I know the second half of life is filled with many trials and tribulations. There will be the heartache that come with illnesses and death among friends and family members, and the stress that comes from personal health issues and possible job loss and/or career changes.

Indeed, the second half of life can be scary, but it need not be one long, unfolding plane crash.

As long as I’m willing to grab that parachute, surfboard or musical instrument, I should be able to make the most of it.

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