Our brains resist change, they rail against it, our amygdala will always want the safe bet. But are the obstacles truly insurmountable? Is it a brick wall? Or is it a sliding door, which, once you decide to approach it, begins to swish open? Because even though our brains prefer safety in the short run, in the long run they crave meaning, challenge, and novelty.
Even if you do not want to, One day you will look back through your life...the Question is, what are you going to see? How will your rate and direction of progress make you feel?
I’m in mid-passage, darling,” he said, beginning to talk like a queen so as to demystify himself, so as to destroy the very qualities John Schaeffer had fallen in love with, “I’m menopausal, change of life, hot flashes, you know. Wondering how much longer I can go without hair transplants and whether Germaine Monteil really works on the crow’s feet. I’ve had it, I’ve been through the mill, I’m a jaded queen. But you, dear, you have that gift whose loss the rest of life is just a funeral for—why else do you suppose those gray-haired gentlemen,” he said, nodding at his friends on the floor, “make money, buy houses, take trips around the world? Why else do they dwindle into a little circle of close friends, a farm upstate, and become in the end mere businessmen, shop-owners, decorators who like their homes filled with flowers and their friends flying in on Air France and someone pretty like you at the dinner table? It is all, my dear, because they are no longer young. Because they no longer live in that magic world that is yours for ten more years. Adolescence in America ends at thirty.
How many of those who are insecure seek power over others as a compensation for inadequacy and wind up bringing consequences down upon their heads and those around them? How many hide out in their lives, resist the summons to show up, or live fugitive lives, jealous, projecting onto others, and then wonder why nothing ever really feels quite right. How many proffer compliance with the other, buying peace at the price of soul, and wind up with neither?
Midlife is the time to let go of an overdominant ego and to contemplate the deeper significance of human existence.
But what the measured prose of psychiatrists and the carefully calculated statistics of social scientists rarely capture is the experience of inner struggle. These significant changes do not occur automatically. In fact, they must often fight against our resistance. In this sense, midlife is a drama more worthy of a playwright than a scholar. We are characters in the play, caught at the opening of the second act, and we do not know what will happen next.
We watch our bodies and our brains slow down as younger bodies and brains zip past us, and we just accept it, not realizing there is a whole world offering to sharpen and improve us. We simply need to look for it.