Standing In The Middle Of Life With My Past Behind Me

I’d heard that after year seven of marriage, the guy becomes disgruntled. You know, the marriage settles in. The mortgage is being bitten off in monthly portions. The kids are toddling and younger. The first promotion or two took place and now it’ll be a longer time before the next one comes around. There was a Marilyn Monroe movie about it called The Seven Year Itch.

Well, I never really experienced that. First of all, Tracy’s not really the kind of girl who causes a guy to get disgruntled. We’d just sold a house and were moving to Dallas, far from family. The kids were toddling and younger, but everything was an adventure there that I enjoyed. The promotion was irrelevant I’d just left my first ministry to come to seminary. Nobody made a movie about it. Suffice to say they don’t make movies about a normal guy who loves his wife and kids and goes about getting an education to become better at what he does.

I’d heard similar things about a mid-life crisis. They make fun of it in sitcoms where guys try to look and act younger than they are…they buy sports cars they look silly in. They wear gold chains and leave their shirts unbuttoned to the navel. They’re usually comfortable with jobs/finances. Then they try to get a trophy wife. Apparently, it’s supposed to happen when the kids learn to drive and/or the nest empties. I don’t know of any movies about it, but I remember one time Cliff Huxtable’s neighbor went through one on The Cosby Show.

Well, I’m not experiencing that, either. First of all, my job allows for a scorching case of Peter Pan Syndrome…so youthful behavior is actually encouraged (side note: This is distinctly different than immaturity, but that’s another blog). I’ve never been a sports car kind of guy and view cars as a necessary evil (here in Texas, anyway) that’d I’d shuttle in a heartbeat if I lived in a place where public transportation actually worked. I’ve never been much for gold and with my tanning ability I’m doing the world a favor by keeping all the buttons buttoned. I’ll never be set in the financial arena even if my job is stable (been month-to-month since 1988, but then again, we’re all really month-to-month, aren’t we?) I’ve noticed that my wife’s much more of a trophy now than she was when she was 22…and trust me, she was a trophy then. Again, I’m not sure somebody wants to make a sitcom about a guy who is generally happy with his life and family.

But I have noticed a few nagging little things…

Like the reality that I’m 43 and feel like there’s still so much MORE that I want to do, usually involving picking up the guitar that’s gathering dust or writing something of significance (even if I can’t begin to think of even what that might be) or taking a summer with a notebook, traveling to every major league park and writing about the experiences as well as whatever Kerouac thing might hit my brain along the way.
Like the nagging feeling that I haven’t done what I could’ve and should’ve done with my professional life.
Like the recurring reminders that there have been blind spots in my parenting that I’d really like to correct ASAP.
Like the glance at the report card that says I haven’t been a good enough student of my wife. It ain’t an “F” but you know you didn’t study for the test as much as you should’ve.
Like the way my brain thinks I can do things that my knees and lower back simply won’t respond as quickly as the synapses tell them to. In polite terms, I’ve, ahem, “lost a step.”
Like the alienation I feel when friends of mine seem so set in their ways and I wonder when we became our parents in some arenas.
Like when my kids remind me that, while my musical tastes seem very hip and with-it to my peers, they’re, ahem, a bit less than very hip and with-it.
Like those moments when I feel like the “Grumpy Old Man” skit that Dana Carvey used to do on SNL, and I want to bang my fist on the table and start sentences with some version of, “Back in my day, we didn’t have…” and then actually finish the sentence.

So, don’t worry about me, patrons.

I don’t buy into a mid-life crisis anymore than I buy into a Seven Year Itch. It’s all about choices we make to walk in the flesh or in the Spirit. It was always thus and always thus will be.

I’m just letting you in on where my brain is this morning…

…because this might be something worth living out loud about here at The Diner about, don’t you think?

I mean, I can’t be the only one who thinks and experiences these things…

…can I?