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.
Liam’s Crib in progress 1 of 11
I like building furniture and other types of woodworking. This is a picture of a crib in progress that I made for one of my grandchildren. The crib is finished, but I can't find a picture of it. I'll add one when I find it.
My Telescope 2 of 11
I 'accidentally' won this scope in an E-Bay auction. I never thought my bid would actually win it. Explaining that to my wife was an interesting event that wound up with a couple new pairs of Dansko shoes in her closet.
Hey, it was a fair trade!
Jupiter and Its Moons All in a Row 3 of 11
Same scope but a higher power to capture Jupiter and its moons. Planetary photography has turned out to be more difficult than I thought, but I'll get there
Venus crossing the sun 4 of 11
Part of astronomy is trying to show people what you can see. This shot is of Venus crossing in front of the sun last year. It's something we won't be able to see again for a long time. I used an old telescope with a heavy sun filter and my smartphone camera to get this shot. The filter is what makes the sun look green.
Almost a Full Moon 5 of 11
This is a shot through my big scope on low power. You can almost reach out and touch it...
Part of My Library 6 of 11
I read. A lot. Close to two books a week on average, although it does go in spurts. Getting a kindle has made it even easier to feed my addiction.
Running Away with the Ball 7 of 11
I am a freelance sports writer and photographer for the local paper. I've slowly been developing my photographic skills. I really like this shot of the running back breaking towards the line after getting the ball..
Guillows Corsair Model 8 of 11
I build and fly (well, crash mostly) model airplanes. This is a kit for an F4U Corsair that I've just started. It's designed primarily as a rubber band powered plane, or a static model, but I'm going to try and convert it to an electric powered model.
It's going to take some time, which is fine, because I still need to learn how to fly the darn things.
Foam Electric Plane 9 of 11
And that is what this little fellow is for. This plane is made from styrofoam, which means when I crash it, I can glue it up and be back in the air in just a few moments. The Corsair, on the other hand: I crash it, and it might be weeks rebuilding before I can fly it again.
My Instruments 10 of 11
I wish I could claim I had mastered each of these. Heck, I wish I could claim proficiency on all of them. But I can play them after a fashion and I have fun with it, and isn't that what music is all about?
Besides, my best instrument is my voice anyway and I practice that all the time!*grin*
My Next Hobby:Raising Alpacas 11 of 11
My wife and I just spent a weekend in Asheville at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair. We both fell in love with alpaca fleece, and then with the animals themselves. Since we live out in the boonies, and have some land to use, we're strongly considering buying a few alpacas and raising them for their fleece. If you haven't had a chance to feel alpaca yarn, think of silk squared, but with the warmth of wool. And the animals themselves are, well, cute is the only word that applies. It's not something we're rushing into, but don't be surprised if a post or two shows up here on how to convert an acre lot into an alpaca pasture!
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?