Am I having a midlife crisis? As I approach the big 50 I find myself thinking more and more about my life. My body is different, I’m going through peri-menapause ( what is that all about!), my children are growing up and there is a lack of direction in my life. But I was also wondering about the UK. We are now no longer a part of Europe, have a general election coming up and have just endured another terrorist attack by a British born bomber. Is the UK in the middle of a midlife crisis too?
What does midlife crisis mean?
Midlife means the middle of one’s life. Crisis means ‘a decisive time’ or ‘time of difficulty or danger’. Midlife (according wikipedia) is the time from years 45–64, where a person is often evaluating his or her own life. This makes sense. Day-to-day stresses add up but it’s not really a crisis ( as in the second meaning) but more reflecting on what has gone before and what is to come. Although the modern idea of a particular kind of middle-age malaise goes back to Freud and Jung, the term “midlife crisis” was first used by Elliot Jaques in 1965, a Canadian psychoanalyst, who described how people entering middle age are confronted with the limitations of their life and their own mortality.
Is it me or the world we live in?
I don’t think this ‘midlife crisis’ I’m feeling is just about me personally but a reflection on how I feel about the world in which we live. The atrocity which happened yesterday at an Arianna Grande concert in Manchester just affirms how mixed up our world is. Explaining to my children what happened was difficult. ‘Why’ was the question they repeated after every statement I made. And the thing is, I don’t know why! Why would someone do that? You can blame religion but no religion says it’s ok to kill innocent people. Of course, atrocities have always happened (World Wars, concentration camps) but I wasn’t a part of that world. I am of this one.
Is it all bad?
Bad things happen every day but so do good things. This is what I hold on to when bogged down with the stresses and cruelties of this world. After the bombing, strangers offered up their homes for people to shelter, provided meals and cups of tea, drove them to wherever they needed to go. Basic human kindness was everywhere last night and again today. People are being a little more patient with one another today, a little kinder and more understanding. This happens when something tragic has occurred.
Tragedies like this make us reflect on our lives and the things we hold dear to us, the things that matter. Does it matter that I’ve put on weight around my middle that I can’t shift. No. Does it matter that my children feel safe in this world? Yes. I can’t do anything about the former ( I’ve decided) but I can with the latter.
What can I do?
I can be a good parent. I can try to explain and be there for them when they want to talk. I can ensure that they notice the selfless acts of kindness by strangers. I must also instil in them that there is right and wrong and they must try to be the best person that they can be. That they must show empathy for others and an understanding of cultural differences. And I must ensure that I give them the skills they need to be resilient to cope with tragedies.
They will need all of these things if they are to be a good citizen and a good human being. They will make mistakes but never of the devastating type like last night that caused hurt to innocent people. The bomber, Salman Abedi was born in Manchester. His parents Libyan refugees came to the UK to escape the Gaddafi regime. I wonder how Salman Abedi’s parents feel today and will they have a midlife crisis. I hope for their sake, they do!