Hello & welcome to another edition of Situation Normal! I’m excited to share an essay about a subject I’ve been waiting 45 years to tackle: middle age. The piece is funny (🤞), but also a tad melancholy, which maybe says something about how I feel about aging. Hopefully my aging angst makes you laugh, think, and feel. If it does, please consider
Oh Michael. Thank you. I need to put this essay in my pill organizer, so I don't forget to take it every day.
1. I'm in it, pal. Deep weeds.
2. I constantly feel stuck between overanalyzing the past (which I can't change) and catastrophizing the future (which I have no control over). At no other point in my existence have I felt LESS able to live in the GD present. It's rough.
3. I would travel anywhere and everywhere all at once. And I'd dance with (and kiss) a lot of handsome strangers.
4. OMG the drop-down menus. Those are just mean.
5. We'll save you. Providing we remembered to take our vitamins that day and have the strength.
Fantastic essay. Perfect remedy for middle-age groan. Thanks again.
The groan. Every time I do it, I hear my dad's groan when I was a kid. It made me laugh. Now I feel like a tribute band.
1. Horizon. It’s gonna be a rough crash: the amateur flips and metalhead attire already look off at thirty.
2. I used to make a joke about black guys getting a trophy for living that long. With age becoming more real, I’m prepping my psyche for physical decline. I think, honestly, that I’m the type that could be talked into cycling tiger blood if I didn’t fear death even more.
3. So many choices! I wouldn’t enjoy the classic younger partner much, after my own time as a pet. So I’ll go with moving halfway across the planet on a whim. Osaka specifically, after the best trip of my life. I can make a classic weeaboo mistake, very very late.
4. All tech is humanity self-flagellating. It is known.
5. We’ll try, but it’s going to be a horde shouting contradictory commands. Think Twitch plays Pokémon, but for medicine.
“I’m too old to think that I’ll live forever, but I’m too young to die.” Perfect definition of middle age!
Honestly at 51 I could not be more excited about the years ahead. I’ve finally figured out who I am, what truly makes me happy and what I have to offer. I now have real freedom. And as long as I don’t get hit by a bus it’s only going to keep getting better.
I groan when I get up from my car seat, just like my dad did. My wife pointed it out and now I try not to, in order to satisfy the rebellious teen inside me.
I’m just starting middle age and I made my big crisis purchase: a custom home arcade cabinet, arriving in two weeks! Yay!
Just yesterday I read a post called What is the Middle on Spark substack newsletter, and I suggest you all go read it and comments, and it made me think about the differences and similarities between the male and female experience of this stage. https://elizabethmarro.substack.com/p/what-is-the-middle
At the age of 73, this stage is definitely in my rear view mirror, so I confess that as a survivor of that stage I am rather enjoying witnessing the angst you all are feeling in the middle of this journey (the good old days for me!) However, since life is short (mantra when you get to be my age) I thought I would simply repeat what I wrote over there about my perspective from that rear-view mirror, and save myself time.
Here it is:
"If you haven't run across this yet, Julia Louis-Dreyfus has a new podcast, Wiser than Me, and in the first interview with Jane Fonda, Fonda talked about her life in 3 stages, seeing 60 as the beginning of the 3rd stage. Great interview, and that, plus Lisa's essay had me thinking about what I see as turning points in my own journey. Certainly when I turned 33, with completion of my PhD, birth of my child and starting my first teaching job, I definitely felt like I had reached the end of my youth. But it was 39, when I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, got the job that would become my career for the next 20 years, and wrote the book that would become the basis for my retirement career that, in my mind, marked the beginning of my middle age. Then, at 59, retired, publishing that long ago written book, having my first grandchild, I can definitely say I felt I was leaving the middle years and starting into that third stage of life. I must say (for those of you in the middle) this third stage, while marked by yearly increases in the physical problems, has been more than compensated by the exhilaration of embarking on a second career unencumbered by financial demands and in complete control of my life and my work as an indie author. So, hang in there!
1. Actually, I'm looking through the tunnel and at about 75% through. Some days are good. The loss of skin tone is the worst. I can't do a forward fold at yoga class without throwing up in my mouth a little bit-looking at my thighs.....omg. And i haven't gone to seed yet...I'm a really young 65.
My husband is 10 years younger than me. That was a blessing till now as he's morphed into a workaholic. With a kid still in college. But I love him. I just keep reminding myself of that. The 10 years is a bigger chasm than when we were younger.
2. Optimistic for the most part. But the older you get the more you see the wash, rinse, lie, repeat BS cycle our government runs us through.
3. To travel to Greece and Rome. And then live in my vacation Casita on the North coast of the Dominican Republic.
4. Drop downs need to have a "age is how you feel" option. I mean really.... Martha Stewart is a fucking inspiration!
5. I put my pill dispenser away. I decided to use taking them as a memory sharpening game. You know, so i can still drive to the grocery. And yoga, and Pilates, and my PT job. Here's a pro tip-make yourself wait 10 minutes to pee as your getting ready to shower. Do it while water is running. It's the next level of kegeling.
You're not fucked. But you might get scurvy or rickets!
According to the internet, I'm still in my middle age. Apparently middle age goes up to 65 these days. I've yet to have a middle age crisis probably because I had enough of a misspent youth to feel I've gotten most of my bad decisions out of the way.
I haven't accomplished everything I wanted but I seem to be the sort of person I wanted to be, so I guess I'm winning!
Middle-age is where things that didn't used to hurt start hurting - regularly. Once one zooms past middle-age, all of those things, and more, still hurt, but you get to complain about it for hours with your friends.
Congrats on publishing this in the NYT! Well done and much deserved. Great piece. Hubby and I are beyond mid-life. We are old friends with the groan and DOB drop downs has given my thumb arthritis. A new sound was added to my vocabulary last year when I was 58. The grunt. The groan is a nice release when you get a sharp pain in your toe. The grunt can mean, “What do you want for dinner?” Or “Did you sleep well last night?”
I’m in the thick of it, or so I thought until I read this. If you think you’re in it at 45, then am I still in it at 58? I feel like I just arrived here a few years ago!
Anyhow, the groans, yes; yoga, essential; pills, been there done that, but now they’re gone (for the most part!); the skin on my legs might be almost old person skin. I just bought expensive lotion to try to make it go away. If Martha can do it...
The best part though is not giving a flying fuck what others think anymore. (For the most part!)
Michael! I'm turning 40 in a week and your post makes me feel strangely better. Bring on the ennui!
Now that I’m an octogenarian the groans have been replaced with not being to bend as far while stretching beings on a back ache. Otherwise, I’m much more satisfied with life. I’ve had the privilege and good fortune of no longer being in ANY rat race making life much more peaceful. My days are filled with exploring today’s philosophical treatises, meditating, learning Spanish on line with none of the deadlines and grades that make me anxious, doing lots of challenging puzzles, taking on-line courses on YouTube, and riding my recumbent bike as often as possible. Of course I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing my daughters become mothers and delight in getting to know my grandchildren. Now I view my life as a long relay race: learning from those who came before me - then from others around me (middle age) - and now passing on the baton of what I’ve learned about life to those who will live after me.
Oh Michael, this isn't an example of zeitgeist I don't know what is. This subject is very much on my mind these days but not because I'm entering it but because I'm afraid it's leaving me behind. I'll be writing about that next week and I would love very much to link back to your beautiful post here. In fact I just realized I don't need your permission I'm going to share it with everyone. I've been collaborating with Lisa Renee who writes a Substack called The Long Middle about when middle age begins and when it ends if ever. She wrote the first part this week over on my Substack, I'll be writing the second part on hers next week with a link back to this post.
Yes, the grown is real. I'm doing it now as I get ready to rise and dive into the day. I consider it a sort of dialog with my body, a small acknowledgement of the effort it makes for me or a sort of encouragement. It depends. As long as I'm moving I don't care.
What a great bit of writing. Over the previous 3 weeks I unsubscribed from everything, stopped writing and tried to wrap my head around Notes. I am so excited to be checked back in with a newfound approach on reading and writing again. It has been my Substack mid-life crisis :) -- one inline comment -- I think the taking of supplements is part of the transition to middle-age -- I took a bunch for a while, now just a vitamin and B-12
I turn 40 this year so this hits close to home *groans*
I shaved my head which is the male equivalent of getting bangs (I think). Because I want to pull a "Bruce Willis" and show my baldness who the boss is.