Thursday, January 5, 2012

Crisis? What Crisis?

While I’ve never actually listened to Supertramp’s Crisis? What Crisis?, I do remember seeing it in record stores back in the day. (Yes, I said records; they’re big flat frisbees with a hole in the middle.)

Mainly, I thought it was an appropriate image and title when writing about my impending 50th birthday.

When you get to my age — or more precisely, the milestone I’m about to hit — you’re supposed to be in mid-life crisis mode. Traditionally, this means buying an overloaded sports car that you can’t afford and don’t need. Paging through old yearbooks and wondering where the time went. Gathering a few college friends and going on some kind of epic buddy-movie journey, searching in vain for your lost youth. Crying in your beer over all the missed woulda-coulda-shoulda moments that you can’t get back.

Seriously? That’s how I’m supposed to invest my waking hours? Is hitting the Big Five-Oh supposed to guarantee a catastrophic existential melt-down, leaving behind a drooling and glassy-eyed automaton, clad in a vintage Dark Side of the Moon t-shirt and a pair of ragged old Levi’s? Just because I recognize that, to quote Jean-Luc Picard, “there are more days behind than there are ahead”?

Certainly, many things have changed during my time here on planet Earth (car styles, for example). The Apollo 11 moon landing. Gilligan’s Island. Martial law in Canada during the October Crisis. Star Wars. The tragic cultural fiasco known as Disco. The fall of the Berlin Wall. Miami Vice. Canada surviving a separatist referendum by 50.5%. Seinfeld. The world-wide sigh of relief when Y2K turned out to be just another New Year’s Eve. The September 11 attacks. Doctor Who.

But really...Crisis? Why should this season of self-reflection, goal-setting (or tweaking), and evaluation/planning be called a crisis?
Of course, if you decided to deal with turning 50 by pursuing some of the pointlessly juvenile things I mentioned earlier, well, that could be called a crisis (of stupidity).
I’m choosing to look at it through a different paradigm:

Instead of focusing on me Me ME and my goals, my wants, and my accomplishments (or lack of), I’m looking through the lens of “how can I be a blessing to others, and what do I need to do to reach that goal?”
  • Three out of four parents are still with us, all in their mid-70’s. How can I bless them and enjoy our relationships, especially when they live anywhere from 1900-4000 kilometres east?
  • Our children are becoming young adults, all with dreams of post-secondary education, marriage, buying their first homes. What needs to be done so that I can bless them? (I guess I should also start thinking outlandishly foreign thoughts like “grandchildren”, but let’s just leave that for another day.)
  • Wendy and I are just a few short years away from becoming empty-nesters. How do I want to bless my incredible wife?
I have no idea what the future holds, of course. I am neither a prophet, nor the son of a prophet. But I want my focus to be on being a blessing. And while I don’t know what it will look like, it won’t be done in crisis mode.