I’ve had a full-blown midlife crisis at least once in every decade for the past 30 years, and don’t even have a Maserati to show for it.
The first one happened in my twenties when my mother died and I realized that it was time to grow up (so I got married). The second one was in my thirties when I had testicular cancer and struggled with the notion of becoming a father (so we had two kids). The next one hit in my forties when I struggled with staying married (that was a total clusterfuck) and the one after that was a couple of years ago, just after I turned fifty, when I went through an extended period of unemployment and a divorce (which at least got me to Brooklyn). To paraphrase Nick Flynn, there have been a lot of bullshit nights in suck city.
We’ve all had them. And we all cope in different ways. My specific strategy has never wavered. First, blind panic. Almost immediately followed by running away. (Picture the knights fleeing from the killer bunny in Holy Grail.) I’ve run to drugs, to therapy, to women, to the Internet, and these fun salves almost always did the trick, eventually calming me down enough so I could face whatever it was I had to face.
And here I go again, perhaps a little ahead of schedule. I started this blog because the thought of dying freaked me out so badly one night that I couldn’t catch my breath. And the thought that I would not only no longer be here, but wouldn’t be anywhere (the real other side of no tomorrow) filled me with the worst dread I have ever known.
So this is me running again, looking for something bigger than myself. Or inside myself. Or…I don’t really care where the fuck it is, as long as it will give me some meaning. Or make me feel whole. Or, at least, unafraid. And then maybe I’ll be able to calm down and face what we must all inevitably face.
I want to believe and need to believe.
I just wish I knew what to believe in.