Well, I wrote it down. I am officially having my midlife crisis. The reason that I say “my” midlife crisis, and not “a” midlife crisis is because I am convinced that everyone goes through a midlife crisis of some sort. It could manifest itself in many, many ways. It can be a cliché, like a new sports car or a Glamour Shots makeover. Or, it could be taking a chance at a new career or going back to college to finish your degree. It could be writing a novel or writing a stand up comedy routine. The point is that, for some reason, I think we are all hard wired, in some way, at the midpoint of our lives, to take stock in what we have learned so far, to assess where we want to go for the rest of our lives, and really determine whether we are getting what we hoped for out of life. Isn’t that what our midlife crisis really is?
In a speech I listened to recently on NPR, David Brooks at the Aspen Ideas Festival coined this crisis as “The Second Mountain.” This is the second mountain we all climb at some point in our lives when we realize the first mountain didn’t get us where we wanted to be. We take lock, stock and barrel of all the scrambling, clawing, scrimping, spending and running around in circles that we all do and see if it really made us all that much happier or gave us any fulfillment. Sometimes it does. Sometimes one of us took the right path, at the right time, for the right reasons, and it all has worked out great! Usually not, though.
While family, career, kids and home ownership can be very rewarding, the routine and drudgery of this life is not often fulfilling for our personal spirit. Often we sacrifice every bit of our personal spirit to bring forth and maintain these items. Every sense of wonder, adventure, restlessness, creativity and personal expression is pushed deep down into ourselves so that we can attend to the needs of others, so we can maintain the physical and aesthetic structure of our home, so we can work towards the vision and goals of the CEO of the company who signs our paychecks, and so we can feel like we are meeting the challenges that life throws at us head on!
Bullshit! Who says that I am any less important than any of those people I serve? Who says that my kids, while precious, should have a right to squash the wandering spirit within me. When I signed up to have kids, did I need to agree that they should only be entitled to experience one, predetermined lifestyle that is deemed valuable by a specific set of cultural beliefs developed as a norm only within the last 50 years? Midwest Suburbia? No! Millions of children experience this world in a million different lifestyles and so much value is gained from diverse human experience.
Who says that the time I exist on earth must be dedicated to enhancing the profit margins of a large corporate organization selling widgets I don’t much like or believe in? I’ve struggled with this question endlessly, for years, quite honestly. It’s the chicken or the egg scenario. If I don’t put in the drudgery to get the paycheck that I’ll use to buy the art classes that give me fulfillment, then I won’t be able to experience any of the fulfillment to begin with. And, while this may be true for many, many people, who will always lack the vision, knowledge and resources to climb out of this trap; I’ve come to the conclusion that would like to not be one of those people in my life. While I may not be a world class celebrity, inventor, entrepreneur, artist or politician; I can take a small slice of the pie for myself and carve out a pretty decent existence pursuing my true passions.
Funny, we still instruct our kids that this is the route to go. We still tell them to pursue academics that will get them a good job, so they can buy a good house, and a good car, good spouse, good kids, good lawn, good neighborhood. However, I have watched both of my parents, at some point in their adult lives, sell all of their belongings and move far away to begin a drastically different lifestyle. It doesn’t really matter what the outcome was, but just as they were teaching me how to achieve success in my life, they were exhibiting that they were completely clueless about how to find success in their own lives! And here I sit, doing the same thing with my kids! We don’t know another way.
I believe that we can teach people to pursue their passions early in life. I believe that we can use people’s passions and natural gifts and talents in extraordinary ways to improve meaning, contentment and fulfillment right down to our daily lives…and still make amazing progress in the world! I believe that we are born with certain genetic attributes that shape the way we interact with the world, and fighting against these attributes to fit your life into the box that culture has currently defined for us, is what leads to the discontent in with our lives. I believe we need to teach people about these insights, give wings to individual ideas, and change the standards by which we deem our lives a success.
This is what RePurspose M.E. Life is about…this is what you will learn, with me, as we reason, implement and experience these ideas.