Fighting the pre-mid-life crisis

Actually, I don't know how pre it may be. After all, I'm 42, live in the snooty suburbs, commute too long to a job I despise, am regularly exhausted, stressed-out and in some sort of pain. My Dad died last September at 77 so even if I live as long as he did, I'm already past halfway. I am arguably in the worst shape of my life - physically, spiritually, intellectually. If it weren't for my wonderful family (scrumptious wifey Supervixen and three crazy, adorable boys - SweetFaceBoy, Vonda MaShone and RunningHammer), I'd probably have gone mad. It's not my life in its entirety that's in the gutter right now, just the life of me.

I have suffered through the post-realization depression with a few days of anguished and tearful self-pity. A few days of this is all I'm allowed, and I have to do it in secret. Supervixen has a handy saying about sympathy being somewhere in the dictionary between shit and syphillis. SweetFaceBoy and MaShone concern themselves primarily with how much Lego building and bicycle-riding they can squeeze in between homework and dinner. RunningHammer tests the current limits of his gravity and velocity with an occassional full-speed falling bearhug to my thighs and crotch. In my home, there are no breaks.

So what to do?

Through the years, I've learned to resist the sucking downward swirl of nihilism. After the aforementioned depression, a gruff but wise voice begins barking gems of self-help.

"Quit feeling sorry for yourself, asshole."

"You already know what to do, just suck it up and do it! Stick with it and don't quit!!"

"Hey, here's an idea, you lard-butt. When the alarm goes off, just get your lazy ass out of bed and stay out! Make a committment and keep it!"

"Get obsessed and stay obsessed! One thing, two things, anything! Find a reason to jump out of bed in the morning. Stay vibrant and intense. Make Death come hunt you down and fight you instead of you just waiting for it to come."

OK OK OK -- back fucking off!!

I'll start with the body since that's what I'm in all day. I need to have some discipline and take my own advice. Stick with the heavy weights with a goal of a 300-pound deadlift by March 15, 2003, and include extra running and yoga. I've found that working with the body takes care of the mind. Some of my most authentic moments have come either during or just after long or extreme physical stress.

Continue my self-education in all things computer-related. Teach myself new programming languages. (This is fodder for a whole 'nother writeup.) Learn Linux. Build a computer. Create a robot. I can lose myself in this stuff the way I used to lose myself when painting. Once I start, it's several hours before I come up for air again, and I don't even notice. I'm basically done with my job by 10 a.m. (I work 7 to 4) so I have the rest of the day to study. Then I might squeeze in an hour at home. Maybe. I have to believe that all the work will pay off one day and I'll get a job I love. In the meantime, I'll just do it to do it and know that I'm working toward a goal.

Get all those freaking stories out of my head before they all go away. A routine of the body will chip away time for both coding and writing. Again, it will take discipline and perseverence.

Realize that some dreams have to remain just that. My time to be a chef and own my own restaurant is over. I'll never do the Hawaiian Ironman triathlon. I'll never swim the English Channel. There are others. There is no sense in brooding. Get over it and move on.


I can still become a programmer. I can still become a writer. I still have time to turn myself into a muscular aerobic machine. I will raise my sons to become kind and generous and strong. I will be a rock-solid husband and giving lover. Until I die I can make relentless forward progress - a line at a time, a word at a time, a bedtime story at a time, a quiet evening at a time.

At least for me, it's never too late to start over. I just need to remember to never stop.