In today's Times man o' science Richard A. Friedman, 51, explodes the myth of the mid-life crisis. Turns out all men are pigs! Just kidding. Kind of. (Some men are rats, too.) But, notes Friedman, "[y]ou have to admit that 'I'm having a midlife crisis' sounds a lot better than 'I'm a narcissistic jerk having a meltdown." It's true. It does. He goes on to cite a study that most middle-aged men are happy. So who's to blame for the enduring myth of the Midlife Crisis? Kids, of course!
The main culprit, I think, is our youth-obsessed culture, which makes a virtue of the relentless pursuit of self-renewal. The news media abound with stories of people who seek to recapture their youth simply by shedding their spouses, quitting their jobs or leaving their families. Who can resist?
Um, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, for one! From Voyage au bout de la nuit:
I'd pretty well come to the point, with age, you might say, when a man knows what he's losing with every hour that passes. But he hasn't yet built up the wisdom to pull up sharp on the road of time, and anyway, even if you did stop you wouldn't know what to do without the frenzy for going forward that has possessed you and won your admiration ever since you were young. Even now you're not as pleased with your youth as you used to be, but you don't yet dare admit in public that youth may be nothing more than a hurry to grow old.
In the whole of your absurd past you discover so much that's absurd, so much deceit and credulity, that it might be a good idea to stop being young this minute, to wait for you to break away from you and pass youth by, to watch it going away, receding in the distance, to see all its vanity, run your hand through the empty space it has left behind, take a last look at it, and then start moving, make sure your youth has really gone, then calmly, all by yourself, cross to the other side of Time to see what people and things really look like.
Also! Good morning! Hope you have a wonderful day!