Mid-life crisis. That is the term folks dance around, imply or simply state out loud when I talk about my adventure. Some say it directly, some more subtle. I disavow that term. I disagree. I reject it! Let me tell you why.
In my head, I associate a mid-life crisis with someone who goes off their rocker. Loses their shit. Someone who makes decisions that are the polar opposite of the life they had been living. The conservative person becomes liberal, the corporate executive becomes a mountain climbing guide, the mini-van driving parent purchases a convertible sports car, a spouse suddenly leaves a seemingly happy marriage. A swing in the person, the life, or the characteristics by which said person had been perviously known. A shift from one life into another of which there was no previous knowledge or inclination. A surprise change. A sudden change.
I do not see that in myself. I have always loved the outdoors. I have always camped and hiked. I have always been a writer, of sorts, as I have boxes full of writings that go back decades. I have dreamed of owning a Jeep since high school. In fact, my Dad brought home Jeeps most weekends of my childhood. He would take us out “four wheeling” in some field or new housing development or obscure construction site. Someplace there was mud, dirt and no people. Those were the days of Jeeps with a literal tin can body and hand-manipulated four-wheel-drive hubs. That was our job, as the kids. We got to – had to – get out to lock and unlock the hubs. We did that in between being bounced around inside, our heads often hitting the ceiling and the dog flying off our laps untethered while wagging his tail in delight.
I have lived with this wanderlust feeling as long as I can remember. I have had a sense of adventure, a sense of angst, a sense that where I was may not be where I was supposed to be. That feeling of needing to get out, of needing to escape. Those feelings led to my first marriage. I felt that angst but I had no idea how to address it. I did not have the skills, the knowledge, the bravery or the confidence to make the change myself. But, this guy I met was living on his own, making his own choices, did not know where or when he would live or work. He had the autonomy and adventure (or so I thought) that I craved. However, my first husband was a very poor choice. I was young, I felt trapped, and I romanticized a pretty fucked up scenario. He represented the only route out. At least that is what I thought at the time. He also gave me my daughter and changed my life forever in ways I cannot begin to fathom and, in some ways, I am still processing.
Still, I do not see myself as having a crisis. In fact, I see myself coming as close to my actual self as I ever have. I feel that I am leaving the self that was not me and have started on a journey TOWARDS myself, into that which is more right. The crisis is what and how I was living! That was the tragedy. I had lived in a way that moved me farther and farther away from the things that really make me happy. I would get a taste every now and again, but that joy did not travel back with me to my every day life. That joy was not as much of my life as I wanted. That happiness became more and more difficult to sustain, to find, to keep. Contentment was elusive.
So, here I am, about three weeks away from my walkabout. Three weeks away from living my life on the road, sans a house, sans regular employment. Here I am, three weeks away from complete and total autonomy, from spending each and every day out of doors, from living in and of the environment, from having my most necessary belongings with me. Three weeks of no yard care, no mortgage, no home improvement projects, no 8-5 routine, no forcing myself to do a job I loathe, no psyching myself up to go to said job. No outward, or inward, attempt at conformity.
Yet, here I am, three weeks away from not always knowing where I will lay my head, or what I will eat, or when I will shower. Not knowing if I will be cold or hot or wet or dry. Watching my savings deplete and wondering how to get healthcare. Three weeks away from the unpredictability of the campground, of the volunteer job, of whatever waits around the bend. The unknowns and the uncertainty in exchange for the freedom and the autonomy.
Mid-life crisis. That is what some see. Perhaps that is what I also see. Perhaps that is a correct term. However, the crisis was how I was living my life. The crisis of a person not living as that person, not living in a way consistent with who and what they are, a person not living authentically or genuinely or honestly. The crisis of a job that chipped away at my soul, of a community built on temporary assignments, of a daily routine that left me shallow and empty.
My choice to walkabout is my way to address the crisis that has been my life. Bringing together two halves into one whole, closing the gap of inconsistency, of disingenuousness. The crisis is living in a way that is more supportive of others than of myself. The daily struggle to get through, the emotional and mental gymnastics to cope only to wake up the next day, tired and disillusioned, and do it all over again.
The journey I am on will help me address the chasm that separated who and what I am with how I was living my life. The struggles I anticipate, the challenges I will face, the joys and delight I will find shall all inform who and what I will be in this next incarnation. My walkabout will actually address the crisis, rather than create one. My adventure will put fuel on the fire that has always burned, alight that which was merely an ember, bring sun to the dark. The crisis will be in the rear view mirror and not on the road ahead.
Well, either that or I will fall flat on my face, alone and broke and miserable and homeless and unemployed. Insert sarcastic and snarky smile here. Eh, I do not see that happening. If it does, I should have the money to land somewhere, rent someplace to live, and start to rebuild. But, I do not see that happening either. Not yet, not right away, perhaps not ever. Nah, that does not work for me. That is not what I see.
You know, I think a mid-life crisis IS the correct term. I am addressing the crisis of my life while I am in what I hope is the middle of my life. I think I can accept that. I think it works. The caveat is that I am not creating a crisis, I am addressing one. I am stopping the crisis of my life in the assumed middle of my life. I think I am having a mid-life breakthrough. Yea, maybe that is a better term. I am shifting my life in a way that will address the crisis and lead me to a more authentic way to be. Mid-life breakthrough.
That is what I am having. A breakthrough. I can live with that.
Cheers to yours,