May 31 is the big day- shave day! The annual Portland St. Baldrick’s event is happening. In the spirit of giving, and of change, I’ll shave my head that day. Generous friends and family have donated to the children’s cancer charity to support the cause, and, I’m sure, for the sport of seeing my “after” photo.
The responses to my news have ranged from “you’re brave” to “you’re crazy.” Neither really captures my feelings about being bald. Mostly I’m just curious. Curious about the feeling, the freedom, the total commitment. At least for a while, I will no longer be able to hide behind my hair, to pretend I’m invisible. It will be impossible not to stand out.
Are the good old days of buying a sports car and having an affair at midlife over?
Sure the sizzle of new red paint and driving fast with the top down still has its appeal, but in reality, the adrenalin blast is short-lived and frankly a little nauseating. I can only speak for myself as a mid-forty’s, mid-income, mid-attractive woman: I don’t have the energy to have an affair, nor the desire to implode my life in order to discover my real self.
So what now?
From reading tweets, posts, and talking to friends, there seems to be a move away from destructive, life changing events in lieu of a more subtle, internal shift. The new midlife crisis is positive; more grounded in change not as an act of rebellion, but one of exploration and growth. The drive to create, learn, and emotionally grow has squelched any carnal whispers of a secret rendezvous. The desire for fulfillment through authenticity and meaning is astoundingly stronger than change through separation or pain.
The new midlife crisis has a shiny silver lining. It involves travel to new places, deeper investment in good relationships, painting, dancing, writing, and acting without fear. Most importantly, this new approach is filled with emotional truth that feels not like an option, but an existential necessity. So welcome to the new, brighter and more hopeful face of midlife, and let’s say goodbye to the whole crisis thing.
In an effort to get to know my characters better, I’m exploring change. What makes one person change, grow, and adapt in the face of challenge and another regress or cling hopelessly to a fruitless past? Does change reveal a more authentic self or just a more polished interpretation of the practiced self?
February feels like the month of few words. Ideas, thoughts, and stories reside in my head but nothing seems to make it to the page. The blank page stares back, empty, hoping, waiting. I sit poised, pen in hand, longing for the ink to flow, but the words just jumble and clog.
So in lieu of finding my own original words, I will turn to the beautiful words of others.
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your hearts longing.