In our 40s, the youthful feeling of indestructibility wakes up to the fact that we are not going to live forever.We begin experiencing a feeling of failure if our goals are not met. College graduates experience humiliation around their more successful colleagues. A need to spend more time alone and a driven desire to regain the feeling of our youth are all signs of a midlife crisis.
According to Jaques, we develop a strong urge to make changes in our lifestyle to compensate or over compensate for our feeling of insecurity, mistakes in life and mortality. Some of us want to change jobs or learn a new trade. Others are looking for clandestine romantic relationships to escape the mistake of a boring marriage. Cosmetic surgery is at the top of the list for women wanting to regain that youthful facial appearance of their high school days and out of shape men hit the workout room to tighten up those sagging muscles. Buying expensive items such as boats, motorcycles, sports cars, fancy gadgets, tattoos and jewelry we can’t afford is sometimes a sign of thumbing our nose at the grim reaper. Unfortunately, drug and alcohol abuse beginning at the age of 40 or even later after the age of 65 is also a symptom of a midlife crisis or fear of our awareness of mortality.
A scientific report released last week reported that great apes also experience a midlife crisis. The ebb and flow of happiness during the middle and toward the end of their life is the same as humans. Conclusion being: our fear of mortality and the patterns of happiness and discontent is passed on to humans through evolution, not the pressures of society. I wonder what the creationists think about that.
Not all creationists are created equal. Last week TV evangelical Pat Robertson admitted the existence of dinosaurs and that the earth was more than 6,000 years old. However 40 percent of all Americans still believe that God created humans at one point within the past 10,000 years.
Well, I don’t know about the fear of mortality but I always knew I had something in common with the “great” ape King Kong. Risking his mortality, he held Fay Wray in one hand as he fought for her affection. While holding on to the top of the Empire State Building, he demonstrated the human qualities of parental protection, love and sacrifice. It was the human qualities of Kong that made the story a classic. It could be said it was his awareness of mortality or midlife crisis that drove him to find a companion to nurture, giving his life meaning.
Maybe someday we will stop killing their cousins in test labs, recognize them as our own biological cousins and try to better understand our own human frailties by better understanding them.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist.