Story Saturday (Mar. 13)
Midlife Crisis #1
I knew the precise moment when I wanted to quit my job.
It was on the train platform in the Bronx, New York City, and it was raining. As passengers gingerly weaved their way around me, I stood in the arms of my partner and sobbed uncontrollably. Had it not been raining, well, I would have been the rain.
I had wanted to be an attorney until I didn’t want to be. It wasn’t a specific factor that got me, except for the fact that the work would never end. Nowadays I’m in a career that I’m passionate in, and I don’t mind my brain feeling like mush at the end of the day from hours of hard analysis and grinding. The problem with the practice of law was that it was an activity that I not only had no interest in, but that I despised immensely. The constant questions, posturing, fighting, billing, stressing, working…
The next three years (2015-2018) were spent on a huge spiritual journey to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be.
The details of which are not important here (though reply back if you want more deets), though I did do some key things that I will take note of for my inevitable second mid-life crisis:
Being alone in nature. I took a trip to Wyoming. By myself. Landed among the mountains, played with a neighbor’s dog, and petted horses. Hiked 16 miles on the road and got stopped by the police. Watched two ducks play on the rapids of a stream (they would ride the waves and then actually swim back upstream to do it again).
Expression. I started writing. A lot. Any chance that I got, I would write continuously. This helped me find my voice. A voice that had been quiet for a long time, due to fear and shame. As I wrote more, I got practice expressing myself. Words and phrases would appear that made me realize — “Hey, I’ve got something here. This actually resonates with me!”
Asking for help. I reached out to my network and asked them what they observed that I actually loved to do in life. Some responses were predictable — a lot of mention of martial arts and cats from separate unrelated parties — and others were unexpected (“would you consider politics?” - no, by the way).
Being okay with being basic. I was highly driven by reputation and prestige. I needed to retreat into my shell, figure out what type of hermit crab I was, and then pick a better container when I was ready.
Now would be the time when I say something inspirational, write some mundane, unactionable, and vague visionary advice, and then send you along your way to handle the mess of your life while standing on my own high horse.
So, I refuse to do that.
(Also afraid of heights. No high horses here please.)
While I have figured out some things, there are so many new challenges that come my way that I don’t know how to handle, or handle in ways that I wish could have gone better. Most days, yes, I feel happier than depressed, but it’s not always within my control. Focusing on my own experience, instead of looking to the experience of other people, has been at times painful, other times hilarious, and still other times quite non-controversial. We cannot prepare for the absurd moments in life, we can only do what we already are, which is that we are human and that we are learning.
In the immortal words of Avicii:
So wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn't know I was lost