“Maybe you’re having a midlife crisis,” Ben suggested one evening, as we were getting ready for bed.
I scoffed at this idea, because I’ve always associated midlife crises with men much older than me, who spontaneously buy red convertibles, and leave more buttons undone on their shirts than usual to reveal gold chains nestled among chest hair.
I couldn’t relate to any of those things, so I thought Ben was joking at first, but when I realized he was serious, and I gave it some more thought, I began to see that he might be onto something.
I’d been in a funk ever since Ben’s 40th birthday in January. We’d had a great time celebrating his birthday, and Ben is very graceful with his aging, but my problems had started shortly after.
My own 40th birthday is coming up in July, and I have to admit, I’ve really been struggling with the idea. There’s something about being halfway through the average life expectancy that’s had my mind working overtime, which generally leads to anxiety, and an obsessive focus on working out my thoughts before I can settle down again.
It would be easier on all of us if I’d just go out and buy the red convertible already.
But no, we all have our own ways of dealing with dealing with midlife crises. My way involves buying a clock, which is not nearly as sexy as buying a convertible, but seems to be doing the trick anyway.
I’ve wanted one of those huge wall clocks for a couple of years already, but I would never normally buy one for myself. For my birthday last year, my parents asked what I wanted that would be fun, and something I wouldn’t get for myself, and so I asked for a clock. My mom told me to pick one out, and so I did what I normally do – waited an entire year to figure out what I actually wanted, because this is a far bigger issue than simply choosing a clock.
A new clock would mean a new paint colour on the wall, and a new console table under the clock, and probably new lamps on the table, so there was all that to consider, along with the fact that our decorating budget is $0 at the moment.
But then I started questioning the whole idea of a massive clock, in general. Do I want such an emphasis on the passing hours? Do I want every person who comes into our home to see such a huge display of time? Don’t I want the kind of home where time seems to stand still?
So I did nothing about the clock for months. Because it’s never just a clock, or just a picture, or anything else that comes into our home. I’ve written blog posts about our photo gallery, our bookshelves, even our grass, for crying out loud. No wonder my life feels heavy sometimes, when there’s such a weight of significance behind everything!
I thought about clocks, and time, and my midlife crisis for awhile, and then one day I came across something in a book about time being precious, exactly because it’s limited, and I started to think about things differently.
When something is unlimited, we don’t need to be careful with it, and we can use it with wreckless abandon. But when there’s a limit to how much we get, we make different choices.
I was listening to a podcast about how everyone wants to leave their mark in the world, so they won’t be forgotten as time passes. But when you think about it, even the most famous people, who changed the course of history and are still remembered hundreds or even thousands of years later, are not really known. We know of them, but we don’t know them.
We might do something that’s remembered, but we won’t find a way to be known, truly and deeply, many years from now. And so each life provides a limited opportunity – to be known, to impact the world, to be here taking up space, and for some reason, this realization took a lot of pressure off of me – the number of hours I get in this lifetime matter simply because I’m here. This time is special exactly because it’s limited.
Having said all that, though, I don’t want to make it seem like we should be freaking out and living with a scarcity mindset. It’s about savoring and intentionally enjoying what is limited.
So I bought the clock. It is my reminder that time is beautiful, and we will enjoy and savor the passing minutes and hours. I want to be all here, not longing for what was, and not worrying about what’s coming, because right now is good.
And strangely enough, I don’t feel so stressed about this whole 40 thing anymore. Something about admitting my feelings of anxiety out loud made it lose a lot of its power. I like where I’m at, and I don’t want to go back in time. I want the seconds to tick leisurely by in our home, and I don’t actually want to live in a home where time stands still. I want to be friends with time. I want my new clock to remind me that every moment is a gift.
But if Ben comes home from work one day and finds a red convertible parked in the driveway, he’ll know the clock didn’t quite do its job, and I needed something a little flashier to get me into the next decade of my life….
6 thoughts on “Friends With Time (and how I’m dealing with a midlife crisis)”
It is of course different for everyone how they learn to accept aging. I read a book just before I turned forty that said that up to the age of 40 beauty was mainly a genetic factor. After 40 beauty became more a result of character and how one had lived and was living. And I thought of older people who I considered beautiful and realized it was true. From then I was determined to work at becoming a beautiful old person.
I LOVE your comment, Gloria. Beautiful inspiration.
Good reminder, Kendra. I always think 40 will be no big deal next year…but we never know how things will hit us. I think I’m safe now, going into next year with your newfound wisdom. Love it.
I am so happy that I stumbled upon this today. This is a beautifully written piece, and the comments are lovely, too. (“From then I was determined to work at becoming a beautiful old person.” ….Thank you, Gloria Dueck.)
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