A Mid-Life Crisis

The 2011 dive season is winding down. Between only being booked on weekends and the weather screwing up most of those, I find myself with a little time to write again. It is bittersweet, but in the process, I have been going and cleaning up many of my websites. Those are Tortuga Charters , Lulu.com and the Captain’s Corner blogs.

I noticed how much I use a recurring theme when creating these pages. I attempt to explain why I had abandoned a business career in sales and marketing to pursue my dreams by going to sea. It is a central theme in my book “Hiding on the Bottom” and honestly I can say that I really suffered a catastrophic case of mid-life crisis leading up to writing it. Thank goodness that it manifested itself in the way it did, and was not nearly as destructive as I have seen occur in other men’s lives of a similar age.

Having matured past this “crisis”, reading my own words gave me a feeling of detachment from the emotions I was feeling just 7 years ago. Today I wonder what the term “mid life crisis” means, and what are the root causes? We all have seen the manifestations of the phenomenom that afflicts so many men approaching their 50th birthday, but not much talk about the “why”. From personal experience, I can tell you that when you are in the middle of it, you don’t even realize it is going on.

What I have come to realize about my own journey through this period is an understanding of what I was going through. I dare not project onto others suffering from similar symptoms, but I would venture to assert there are commonalities in the emotionally charged state of the period. In my case it was an overwhelming feeling that I had spent my whole adult life trying to do what other’s expected of me. The operative word is “trying”, because by no stretch of my imagination do I think I even came close to meeting those expectations. But it felt like I was trying.

I have heard the “mid-life crisis” for men explained as a fear of death. I don’t think that is true. It is a fear of not living and the time to start living is running out. That is what happened to me. I was in a career that I was good at but hated, raising 6 teenagers at once with all the crazy family dynamics that go with that, and an ex-wife that I fought with over every single shared issue in our lives. My mother passed away unexpectedly and since my father had passed 10 years earlier, I found myself without living parents. I was miserable, and I found solitude, satisfaction and adventure in scuba diving. I literally began “Hiding on the Bottom”.

That was the acute manifestation of my mid-life crisis. The long term effects have had a positive impact on my view of the world. Like many men who emerge on the other side of the collateral life damage that occurs during the crisis, I have a new and improved sense of self with a relaxed attitude about how I will live the rest of my life. I would like to say that I found myself, but the honest fact is that my “self” found me. Finally I am comfortable in my own skin. I am no longer afraid of not living, and as a result of that I am not afraid of death.

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