Tag Archives: mid-life crisis

Of Anniversaries and Birthdays and Mid-Life Crises

Today my wife and I celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Kim and I met at Colby College in Waterville, Maine in 1986. We got married in North Reading, Massachusetts, her home town in 1992. Our reception was at the Hawthorne Hotel in Historic Salem, Massachusetts. We moved to Michigan in July of 1993 and bought the home that is the theme of this blog in December of 1995. Two children, several jobs and lots of pets later, here we are celebrating 20 years as husband and wife.

Ours is not a perfect marriage, none are. But it’s pretty close. We’re very similar people and we like each other. Yes, I specifically used that word… “like”. We like each other, we’re friends, we get along, we know when it’s okay to talk to each other and we know when it’s best to leave the other to themselves. That old adage that opposites attract should be thrown out the window. Opposites don’t attract… well, perhaps they attract, but do they last?  People that are the same, that have the same interests and personality traits have relationships that last. Sure, we are in love too. But “love” is one of those vague words that has so many levels of meaning. It’s a word for young people testing the waters of newly discovered relationships. It’s a word for romantic’s spending a week in Paris or watching a sunrise on the beach or picking daisy’s in a field. It’s a word that’s important in our lives, but when it comes to a successful marriage words like friendship, commitment and loyalty should trump the word love any day. When you’re raising kids and trying to pay a mortgage and thinking about college years… you better be friends… you better be committed and loyal… and you DAMN WELL better LIKE each other!  So, to my wife, if you are reading this… I may love you… but I really LIKE you. Thanks for being my best friend.

Today is also my oldest brother’s 50th birthday!  This is quite the milestone day! I have two older brothers, both of whom I look up to tremendously and who have been friends and mentors to me. Unfortunately they both live far away and I don’t get to see them that often. But they are important in my life and I wish the oldest the happiest of 50th birthdays today.

I have to admit, as I sit here and type this morning, all these large numbers, 50’s and 20’s make me feel old and throw me deeper into my so-called mid-life crisis, which I have written about periodically and that I suspect I’ll be dealing with for the rest of my life. Mine is not the traditional mid-life crisis of fast sports cars and yachts and trips to the Caribbean. It’s more of a “can I check the fuck out and become a quirky, long-bearded homesteader who raises bees and writes poetry and doesn’t have to deal with the daily shit storm of life?” But that’s not very responsible and fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) I am a mostly responsible guy and understand that’s not a suitable option at this stage of my life.

Plus, I’m not sure my wife would “like” me anymore!

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The Meaning of Life

Ring… ring…

RECORDING:  You have reached the offices of Meaning of Life Industries.  This phone call may be recorded for quality assurance.  Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed.  So that we may direct you to the proper department, please select from the following prompts.

Dial 1 if you have questions about religious conceptions of existence, social ties, consciousness and happiness.

Dial 2 if you have questions about the pursuit of well-being and the related conception of morality.

Dial 3 if you have questions pertaining to the purpose of life and how it may coincide with the achievement of ultimate reality, or a feeling of oneness, or a feeling of sacredness.

Dial 4 if you have questions arising out of the fundamental disharmony between the individual’s search for meaning and the apparent meaninglessness of the universe.

Dial 5 if you have questions about the premise that the happiness of the individual person is inextricably linked to the well-being of humanity, as a whole, in part, because humans are social animals, who find meaning in personal relations, and because cultural progress benefits everybody living in the culture and which largely translates as ceasing to endlessly reflect on the self, instead of engaging in life and which on the whole results in the therapeutic response that the question of the meaning of life evaporates if one is fully engaged in life.

ME:  Panic…

RECORDING: Or, you may dial zero at any time to speak to a customer service agent.

ME: Dials zero

Ring… ring…

AGENT: Hello, thank you for calling Meaning of Life Industries, this is Raju, can I get your name please.

ME: Steve

AGENT: Hi Steve, how can I help you today?  Do you have a philosophical question concerning the purpose and significance of life or existence in general?

ME: Ummmm…. no, I’d just like to talk to someone.

AGENT: Okay, I can help you with that.  Are you trying to understand how scientific contributions can focus on describing related empirical facts about the universe?

ME: No… umm… I don’t think so… I’m just feeling kind of lost some days lately.

AGENT: I understand… I’ll be more than happy to help you with that. Are you having questions about the symbolic meaning, ontology, value, purpose, ethics, good and evil, free will, conceptions of God, the existence of God, the soul, or the afterlife?

ME: No… ummm… uhhh… none of those things. I do have a job change coming up…

AGENT: Okay, it would be my sincerest pleasure to help you with that.  Do you find yourself focusing less on humankind’s relationship to God and more on the relationship between individuals and their society?

ME: Uhhh… no… uhh… I’m not sure about that… I write a blog called Brown Road Chronicles and I feel like somehow I should try to take it to the next level… whatever that is.

AGENT: Okay, I am driven with intense joy to help you with that.  We find that is common amongst bloggers, that a lot of them start writing because they are searching for something more meaningful. Let me ask… are you aware that happiness depends upon being self-sufficient and master of one’s mental attitude while suffering is a consequence of false judgments of value, which cause negative emotions and a concomitant vicious character?

ME: Ummm… uhhh… I’m not sure I understand what you mean by that… but my wife thinks maybe I’m just having a little bit of a midlife crisis.

AGENT: Yes, I understand… and I would be incredibly, fantasmically, delighted to help you with that.  Steve, I think maybe we should schedule an appointment for you to have a consultation with one of our Meaning of Life Associates.  Do you have a preference who you’d like to see?

ME: Ummm… no… I don’t know who the choices are.

AGENT: Well, our current staff includes Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Kierkegaard, Epicurus, Nietzsche, Camus and Confucius.

ME: Oh my… I didn’t think all those people were still alive… are those people still alive?

AGENT: No sir, they are not alive… our actual Meaning of Life Associates are… well… we call them “philosopher helpers”… kind of like the Santa Claus you’ve perhaps seen at your local mall.

ME: Oh… okay… well, I don’t know… I guess whoever is available.

AGENT: Okay, good… my whole human consciousness and purpose of life thrives on me helping you with that. We can see who has an open appointment available.  Do you have a preference of which facility you would like to visit… Mt. Everest, Kilimanjaro, Fuji or Kangchenjunga?

ME: Kangchen… what… I’m sorry, what was that last one?

AGENT: Kangchenjunga.

ME: Oh my… where is that?

AGENT: That would be on the border between India and Nepal.

ME: Oh my… ummm… isn’t there anything closer. Don’t you have any offices in Michigan?

AGENT: No, I’m sorry sir, all of our offices are at the tops of mountains. I’m pretty sure there are no mountains in Michigan.

ME: Oh… I see… well, I’m sorry, I don’t think I can get to any of those places… but thank you for your time anyway.

AGENT: Well, I’m sorry I couldn’t help you sir, if you’d like I can transfer you to our automated Meaning of Life, self-help line.

ME: Okay, I guess that would be alright…

AGENT: I’ll transfer you now, thank you for calling Meaning of Life Industries.

Ring… ring…

RECORDING: You have reached the Meaning of Life Industries automated self-help line.  Due to an overwhelming volume of bloggers calling our lines, we are experiencing excessive delays.  Approximate wait time is ten years.

Or, you may dial zero at any time to speak to a customer service agent….

 

*Thank you to Wikipedia for clarifying what the meaning of life… really means.

 

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