How often do you see a man of middle years, in his 40s or 50s, driving a sports car, or taking up a sport or activity, and think, “Aha! A midlife crisis! He’s just a silly man trying vainly to recapture his lost youth”?
I’ve thought it myself from time to time.
But now, I find myself squarely in that age group, and I’ve made a profound discovery. Yes, I’m doing things that I’ve never done before, and exploring interests that I haven’t explored before, but it has nothing to do with my age, or some desire to deny that I’m getting older. I’m much happier and more secure now than when I was 20. In fact, you couldn’t pay me to go back to being 20. Or even 30. Sure, I’ve got some regrets, and things I would do differently, but my life now is a good one, and I am happy where I am, and where I’ve been.
So what is driving men like me to take up youthful hobbies, or start new careers, or make huge changes in our lives if we’re not trying to fight off old age?
For me, and I suspect for most men, it’s because this is the first time in our lives when we have the time and the resources to explore those interests. It’s the wallet, not the clock that drives us.
I don’t know about most of you, but when I was 25, I couldn’t afford a $40,000 sports car. And even if I could afford it, I wouldn’t have been able to fit 6 kids and a wife in it.
And that’s the whole point of the thing. When we were younger, we had all of these interests, but couldn’t pursue them because of other priorities. Like feeding the kids, buying diapers, fixing the washing machine, putting new tires on the minivan, and so on. Our hobbies took a back seat to the necessities of life. Sure, some men prioritized differently, and did all the things we thought about doing, forgoing families, and that’s fine for them.
It’s just that now, it’s our turn. We’ve finally reached a point in our lives where we have the time and the resources to explore our hobbies. That’s not a crisis; that’s a blessing.
To be fair, there are men who take it too far, and do get caught up in a race to preserve their youth, but if you look closely, they also tend to be the men who put off marriage and family in order to do whatever they wanted in the first place. I’m not saying they are selfish, only that they’ve always prioritized their wants and needs. Those of us who decided that a family is worth the sacrifices required (and I am in no way saying I regret my choices; part of my happiness now is watching my children build their lives and their families. I wouldn’t trade that joy for anything.) usually maintain that sense of proportion and balance their hobbies with their other responsibilities. And if sometimes we go overboard and ‘accidentally’ spend more money than we really should have, it’s okay. We usually have it covered.
So the next time you see a middle-aged overweight guy being dragged down the beach by a power kite, don’t snicker about him having a ‘mid-life crisis,’ because he isn’t.
He’s just having fun.
And to prove it, I’m going to share a few of my hobbies, both age appropriate and otherwise, with you.
You know, what’s scary is not how many hobbies I’ve listed, but how many I’ve left out!
So tell me, what hobbies do you have?