Saturday, February 9, 2013

Nobody Loves Me But My Mother, And She Could Be Jivin' Too - A Midlife in Cry-sis

A Needless and Melodramatic Tale of Self-Pity, Self-Absorption and Self-Involvement

I am the Very Model of a Modern-Day American

The challenge at hand - to espouse upon the travails, trials and tribulations of middle-age doldrums without weeping, whining and wailing; to do so devoid of dreary dullness, tireless tedium and short a slumbering stay for the reader in the gentle waiting arms of Morpheus, and to avoid the palpable perception of rampant egomania (as cries of “too late” resound throughout the land.)

No Pill’s Gonna’ Cure My Ill
My awareness of a potential midlife malady arose with a confluence of behavioral differences - bouts of lethargy and listlessness, frequent minor illnesses, moments of melancholy, persistent fatigue and sleepiness (even now, the clanging of an alarm prior to 3pm is an enhanced interrogation technique to me) lack of interest, lack of focus… (I’m sorry, what was I saying again?) lack of curiosity in toys and play, excessive shedding, increased number of hairballs and going outside the litter box.

Any comprehensive, or in this case any slapdash, scrutiny of such a subject requires some definition and explanation of the issue at hand, and so we turn to that ultimate source of information, wisdom and Danish pornography; that magical land accessible only through QWERTY; that enchanted kingdom where Palin remains relevant, Gingrich is a great thinker and Bachmann, sane; that mecca where felines reign and share insight in memes, a place where dreams are born and time is never planned. It's not on any chart, you must find it with your heart” – the Never Never Land of the World Wide Web – here, from on-high, online, are some indications of a midlife crisis – play along with nycityman and let’s together discover how we fare.

“If you are going through a midlife crisis, you might experience a wide range of feelings, such as:
Discontent with life and/or the lifestyle that may have provided happiness for many years (yes)
Boredom with things/people that have hitherto held great interest and dominated your life (affirmative)
Feeling adventurous and wanting to do something completely different (si)
Questioning the meaning of life, and the validity of decisions clearly and easily made years before (you betcha’)
Confusion about who you are, or where your life is going. (you can read me like a book)”

While all points appear relevant and extremely accurate, I believe these symptoms have, in reality, initially surfaced somewhere between the successful conclusion of toilet training and the first stirrings of confused “I Dream of Jeannie” lust and ardor. Rather than accompanying the arrival of the AARP, the early bird special and the long-overdue appreciation of the genius of Guy and Ralna, along with the rest of the Lawrence Welk musical menagerie, in actuality, don’t we all experience  downhearted days at various times and in various degrees, through the entirety of our lives? It's an inevitability for a being who can ponder and postulate. And is it not a perusal of possibilities positive when one questions current situations and future prospects – for as the sage, Casey Kasem, so often intoned, “keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”

There'll Be One Child Born in Our World to Carry on, to Carry on
With your indulgence, we momentarily switch to a tone and a subject of some seriousness, and of a more personal nature than is the norm. My family recently suffered a sudden, unexpected and heartbreaking loss of a younger cousin and at an age where she should have had many decades of vibrant, healthy and fulfilled life and love ahead of her.  We’re an Italian clan, strong in number, and at this point most of us have dealt with the passing of a parent, all have experienced the death of uncles, aunts and grandparents, but this was the first loss of our generation and the copious count of cousins assembled took it hard. If our, much-loved and much-missed,  cousin could pass so unexpectedly, so tragically prematurely, leaving so many days left unrealized, are we making the best of those very precious and finite days remaining in our futures?  Is 25 years in a cubicle the fruition of anyone’s potential?

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité
By purposeful design of the workplace compensation and promotion process, we wage daily battle with those above us (natural enemies, like preventative dentistry to Tea Partiers), those below us (overly-ambitious young punks, fresh out of University with their hair and their music and their drugs, gunning for our jobs), our peers (commiserating comrades at after work fraternization tavern outings, cash-coveting competitors within the office environs), and even those yet to be hired (we must stop reproducing at such a rapid rate, there will forever exist but a fixed sum of positions.) The structure of the employment environment is one of intended competition and we are all its futuristic, apocalyptic, nihilistic, Mel Gibson-like Road Warriors (minus the Neo-Nazi, Anti-Semitism, of course.) We resent those who are the purveyors of power, the string manipulators to us marionettes, the supervisors whose command of “jump” will eternally be followed by our query of “how high?”

Whilst scanning Facebook and nodding off in mid-afternoon reverie, we daydream of some romanticized revolution in which authority will be overturned and sovereignty placed in the hands of the noble proletariat as we storm our business place Bastille and liberate our fellow corporate drones and toilers to ascend and occupy our own Versailles, at which time climate change will cease, our nation will revel in a population fully and contentedly employed, and adversaries across the globe will lay down their armaments, join hands and serenade our anxious ears with “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand.”  

No matter how gainful, how rewarding, even how enjoyable a job may be, after a quarter century of traversing the same urban avenues to the same office complex to fulfill the same basic responsibilities, it’s just ordinary, and to be anticipated, that Peggy Lee will caress your cranium and croon that musical question, “is that all there is?” However, we lacking the surname “Romney” need to secure steady engagement. One needs to eat, and live, and love (particularly pricey, depending on the neighborhood) and provide shelter from the storm. One needs to clothe himself in the finest fabrics, the fanciest finery and optimal attire and, without the indisputably indispensable, planned obsolescence that is the Apple product line, lovingly and painstakingly assembled by Job’s army of pre-teen Chinese slave-laborers, we know our lives as Americans would be incomplete and truly unworthy. So work we must, but work while unswervingly striving to strike a reasonable and livable balance between hours spent laboring to enrich others and those more properly devoted to life and time’s true values and joys.

As for nycityman, an occasional tilter at windmills -a sometime unsteadying frame of mind - this very blog and the opportunity it allows for expression and exchange of ideas, is a remarkable remedy to despondency and depression, both genuine and illusory.  And until my true dream, and true happiness, of achieving the position Beneficent President of the United Earth in Charge of all Things and all Decisions Rendered reaches fruition, I remain grateful for all I do have.  

And speaking of things to be grateful for (how's that for a slick, showbiz-y segue) here are two musical legends who's work has brought joy to generations - B.B. King and Peggy Lee.

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