Mid-life crisis.

Am I having one?

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

Actually, I think “crisis” is the wrong word. It should be a mid-life “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 surfboard.

I turned 49 in January. I still like to surf, but every 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 mid-life crisis.

I’m thinking, “Dear Lord, don’t let me die.”

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

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

That’s what I did.

In addition to enjoying a second honeymoon period with surfing, I’ve rediscovered the magic of music, particularly with percussion, and have found myself performing with other musicians — in front of real live people!

I also acted on stage for several community theater productions — in front of real live people!

The last seven years have been a period of rediscovery and new adventures that don’t seem to be hampered in any way by the fact that I’m getting older.

For many, the term “mid-life” 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 having a large supply of ibuprofen on hand.

Those experiencing mid-life crises often encounter the all-to-familiar wishful thinking that our lives would be complete, “If only ....” 

You know what I’m talking about. The potentially dangerous thought “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, man.

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 stress and heartache that comes with illnesses and death among family members, 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, hellacious free fall that ends a fiery 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 the second half of life.

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