Many years ago, when my husband and I were young and our relationship brand new, we spent an evening with some friends of his and their other guest. The friends and the guest were all quite a bit older than we were. The guest, a woman in her 40’s, had a young son. She spent much of the time we were there saying things like, “something needs to change in my life. I don’t know what it’s going to be, but by this time next year, something has to be different.”
Later, TGeek and I debriefed the party. We rolled our eyes at that ridiculous woman who seemed to us to be refusing to deal with her own problems, whatever they were. If she wanted something to change, why didn’t she just do it? Couldn’t she just make it different in whatever way she wanted? That’s what we would’ve done. Does being middle-aged make you stupid and pathetic?
When you are so young that a year still seems like a long time and you have no kids and you don’t own much of anything and you have no responsibilities to or for anyone, you can change you life on a whim. You can throw everything of value in the back of your car in the morning and be living in a different city by nightfall. You can make bad choices and insane choices because you can afford to take the risk and you have all the time in the world to recover from any negative consequences that result. When your life belongs to only you, you are never stuck.
So I didn’t know, when I was young, just how stuck a person can be. Being married makes you stuck; owning a house holds you firmly in place; having kids coats your feet in cement. Spending your career-building years caring for kids instead of building your career adds two-ton weights to your already glued-down galoshes. All of those possibilities that dangled about you in your youth, the ones you so carelessly brushed aside, are long gone. The world narrows down to trivialities. What will I make for dinner? Are we running out of laundry detergent?
Yes, middle age does indeed make you stupid and pathetic. Something has to change.