The Middle-Age Surge written by columnist, David Brooks, is a fabulous expose on what it really means to be living in ones “middle ages.” He reviews the book, Life Reimagined, by Barbara Bradley Hagerty while also proposing that the idea of mid-life crisis is truly a myth that many don’t see as being applicable to them. I mean seriously, people, how many friends or coworkers of yours purchased a zippy sports car when they hit their mid-40s or later?
Many years ago I briefly dated a guy who drove a gold-colored early model Porsche. On my third date with him, I said, “You know what they say about guys who drive Porsches, don’t you?” His response was nowhere near the statement I was going to provide that centered around over-compensation for short-comings. He said, “Yeah, they have lots of money.”
Not even close.
Anyway, Mr. Brooks quotes theologian Karl Barth who described midlife in this manner:
The sowing is behind; now is the time to reap. The run has been taken; now is the time to leap. Preparation has been made; now is the time for the venture of the work itself.
I can unabashedly declare that I can look back on my life with a more refined foundation of wisdom; I can move forward, not haphazardly, but with focus and intent. I know what’s important to accomplish before my time on this earth comes to an end, and I’m not going to let anything get in the way of my doing so. (So watch out publishers, I’m knocking on your doors!)
The people who find meaning at this stage often realize the way up is down. They get off that supervisor’s perch and put themselves in direct contact with the people they can help the most. They accept that certain glorious youthful dreams won’t be realized, but other, more relational jobs turn out to be more fulfilling.
One of the conclusions the columnist comes to is that the mature mid-life folks “are less likely, given all the judgments that have been made, to care about what other people think.”
And that describes me to a T.
David Brooks’ article, Lady Gaga and the life of passion, speaks of putting ourselves out there for something for which we are passionate.
All that is needed for a person to conclude that Lady Gaga puts herself out there is to watch just one of her performances or appearances at awards shows. She wore a meat dress at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. Outsiders like ourselves look at such a display and might think unkind thoughts about a person who is extremely passionate about her craft.
For most of us, putting ourselves out there means singing at the top of our lungs in the shower or car where no one can hear us. Or perhaps our definition of being out there means matching a floral print top with checked shorts when on vacation where no one knows us.
David Brooks’ article covers the passion involved when we’re courageous enough to follow our dreams, dreams portrayed in this manner by Lady Gaga:
I suppose that I didn’t know what I would become, but I always wanted to be extremely brave and I wanted to be a constant reminder to the universe of what passion looks like. What it sounds like. What it feels like.
Given that description, us aforementioned outsiders might feel differently about how this extraordinarily talented singer/performer expresses herself.
So what does it mean to live a life of passion? Read the rest of this entry »
Abby Ellin, New York Times, writes about the late-life renaissances that many Baby Boomers experience when they re-decide what they want to be when they grow up.
When we were younger, many of us drifted into college studies and post-college careers that may or may not have been our first choice but at least paid the bills. As we near retirement, or even years before retirement, we wonder, “Is this all there is?” And when we wonder like that, we get dissatisfied, and when we get dissatisfied – if we’re gutsy – we’ll do what it takes to become satisfied. If we don’t attain our desired level of satisfaction, we’ll languish: lose vitality, grow weak, and become feeble. My oh my, is that what you want? Read the rest of this entry »
Have you ever been rejected? Read the attached NY Times article: Accepted? Rejected? Relax You’ll see that the article was retitled since it first appeared so when you click on the link, you’ll see the subject matter as being about college admissions.
Rejection affects all of us: it’s not just about college admission policies.
I’m a writer; I should know.
I’ve only been looking for an agent for 30 days, therefore the 15 rejections – or what I like to call not interesteds – I’ve received out of 60 submissions sent is only 25% of the total so far. Wow, 75% of the agents haven’t turned me down yet! Read the rest of this entry »
Think of a very uncomfortable subject that you don’t like to talk or even think about.
By any chance was that subject death?
If it is, you’re not alone. Given the option of getting a root canal or talking about our eventual demise, many would leap into the dental chair. Why? What’s so yucky about death? It’s an inevitable outcome of our life experience here on earth. To my knowledge, no one has successfully hidden from the grim reaper when it came knocking at their door. So what’s the big deal? I’ll tell you what’s the big deal.
A NY Times article, When Advance Directives are Ignored, paints a frustrating picture of how and when the best laid plans can come to naught. I am an absolute, card-carrying advocate of Advance Healthcare Directives, also known as a Living Will. I am more concerned about people dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s while preparing their last healthcare wishes, than I am about what people want done – or not done – towards the end of their lives.
You see I couldn’t care less whether you wish to extend your life at all costs – allowing all heroic methods to be employed while on your death bed to take advantage of every second of life available to you – or you simply wish to be made comfortable with the usage of palliative measures while you transition from this life to the next. What does matter to me, however, is that you secure those wishes in a binding legal document while you’re still able to do so. (I am not a lawyer; I am a daughter whose mother and father gifted their three children by laying out their final wishes on paper years in advance of the end of their lives.)
I’ve written four articles addressing this topic in the past few years. I hope you will peruse them, especially if you’ve not yet taken steps to prepare for your exit from this life in the manner in which you choose.
- Cost of Dying: planning for a good death
- Alzheimer’s and other dementia: Advance Directives
- A difficult but necessary conversation
- The Gift that keeps on giving
A recent NY Times article, On Dying After Your Time, poses many topics for discussion that must be addressed. I knew before I even started to read the article that readers will have varying opinions on the matter of extending life beyond its appointed time to die. These opinions will be based on ethics, biases, age of the reader, and religious beliefs, to be sure, but another factor that comes into play is the personal experience of each reader.
If the reader has watched a loved one perilously balanced in limbo with a ravaged-by-disease body and/or mind, that reader might lean towards declaring that too much is being done to artificially prolong life. In the past five years of my life, I have watched both my father and my sister-in-law die from Alzheimer’s. Who they were at the end of their lives didn’t come close to resembling who they were pre-disease. If the reader has had no experience with this aspect of life and death, that reader may feel more comfortable with the decision to throw every treatment possible at the patient with the goal of allowing that person to live as long as humanly – or scientifically – possible.
One of the issues presented in the NY Times article is the fact that as we live longer, there is an increase in the amount of chronic illnesses – a fact that certainly stands to reason. “This rise in chronic illness should also give us pause about the idea, common to proponents of radical life extension, that we can slow aging in a way that leaves us in perfectly good health…The evolutionary theory of senescence [growing old; biological aging] can be stated as follows: while bodies are not designed to fail, neither are they designed for extended operation.”
The author of the NY Times article is an 83 year old man who closes out the piece by stating, “We are not, however, obliged to help the old become indefinitely older. Indeed, our duty may be just the reverse: to let death have its day.”
If you haven’t yet formed an opinion on the matter of life-extension at all costs – I encourage you to do so before it’s too late. Life and death decisions are best made well in advance of the necessity of such decisions.