It’s been just over 6 years since my personal Great Reset and all that ensued, from winding up in the ICU with killer flu to non-dates gone tragicomically wrong to meeting someone new and then moving from Toronto to Tampa and marrying her. It’s been a wonderful adventure, during which time I adopted “Best! Mid-life crisis! Ever!” as my personal battle cry.
From Get a Midlife, published in the New York Times in January 2012:
YOU may be surprised to learn that when researchers asked people over 65 to pick the age they would most like to return to, the majority bypassed the wild and wrinkle-less pastures of their teens, 20s and 30s, and chose their 40s.
We are more accustomed to seeing the entry into middle age treated as a punch line or a cause for condolences. Despite admonishments that “50 is the new 30,” middle age continues to be used as a metaphor for decline or stasis. Having just completed a book about the history and culture of middle age, I found that the first question people asked me was, “When does it begin?” anxiously hoping to hear a number they hadn’t yet reached.
Elderly people who find middle age to be the most desirable period of life, however, are voicing what was a common sentiment in the 19th century, when the idea of a separate stage of development called “middle age” began to emerge. Although middle age may seem like a universal truth, it is actually as much of a manufactured creation as polyester or the rules of chess. And like all the other so-called stages into which we have divvied up the uninterrupted flow of life, middle age, too, is a cultural fiction, a story we tell about ourselves.
One of the biggest challenges in moving from Toronto to Florida is that I all of a sudden, I was a stranger in a strange land, with few friends. That’s been changing over the three years that I’ve been here, as I’ve gotten to know more locals. There’ve even been times when I’ve walked into a place in Tampa or St. Petersburg and someone would approach me and say “Are you the Accordion Guy?”, just like they used to in Toronto.
I’m particularly mindful of the need for a base of friends because I’m an extrovert who also works from home and is closing in on age 50. This is a particularly dangerous combo for guys my age, and the Boston Globe’s article, The biggest threat facing middle-age men isn’t smoking or obesity. It’s loneliness. covers it in detail. For the women’s perspective, Huffington Post’s Why Midlife Women Need Friends More Than Ever is worth checking out.
I listen to a fair number of podcasts, and one of my regular listens is Cal Newport’s The Art of Maniliness podcast, which always covers interesting topics and features interesting guests. In a recent podcast, Building Your Band of Brothers, Cal interviewed Stephen Mansfield, author of Building Your Band of Brothers, and they talked about the importance and difficulty of forming friendships when you’re no longer a young man. It’s a worthwhile listen:
If you like watching YouTube videos and want to stay healthy in both body and mind, watch Dr. Mike Evans’ channel. He’s got lots of good, science-backed, sound advice. Any time someone comes to me with their worries about hitting their 40s, I send them to this video…
…and then I send them to one of the most profound bits in The Simpsons: Grampa Simpson’s “I used to be ‘with it’” speech…
…I’ll send them to that story, reminding them that life is short, and also that Ramses II was also known by another name: Ozymandias.