We are happiest in our early years and again in our later years. We’re not so happy in mid-life. Or at least so says the research.
Mid-life can be crisis time. Not every thirtysomething or fortysomething experiences a mid-life crisis. But for those who do — men and women of all classes, races, and ethnicities — mid-life crisis is very real. Mid-life crisis is an internal storm of self-doubt that generates daunting realizations like these:
“I’ve already lived half my life, yet I don’t know who I am, or who I was meant to become.”
“I don’t know where I’m going, or what I was meant to do, or why.”
Experiencing mid-life crisis is like waking up on a small boat in a storm, though mid-lifers’ reactions vary. Some mid-lifers just go back to sleep — some sleep induced by alcohol or drugs. Others jump over the side, out of marriages, out of old work, into new relationships, new jobs, new geography, new lifestyles. Most mid-lifers just hang on to the tiller until the storm eventually subsides.
A very clever movie, “The Truman Show”, portrays one man’s mid-life crisis. Truman (Jim Carrey) lives a picture-perfect suburban life in Seahaven, a model coastal town. Unknown to Truman, hidden cameras have recorded his every moment since birth, and broadcast them live to a captivated worldwide TV audience. “The Truman Show” is the world’s most watched TV production.
Seahaven is an artificial town bordering an artificial sea, all inside a gigantic domed television studio. The dome-contained environment is entirely controlled by Christof (Ed Harris), the Truman Show’s tyrannical director, who programs its artificial weather and commands its artificial sun, moon, planets and stars. Christof’s most memorable line is, “Cue the Sun!”
Everyone Truman has ever met is an actor, even his wife, who crossed her fingers during their wedding vows. Each actor is fitted with tiny earphones through which Christof dictates lines and issues stage directions.
Inevitably, Truman begins to suspect that his life has been a charade, and fantasizes about travel to Fiji. Though deathly afraid of water, he flees Seahaven in a small sailboat. Christof orders up an artificial storm to foil Truman’s escape. When the sea calms, the sailboat bumps against the shell of the gigantic dome. Dramatically, Truman locates a door leading to the real world outside Seahaven, whose existence he’s begun to suspect.
Mid-life crisis can play havoc in the workplace. Confused and hurting, it’s common to blame bosses and co-workers for whipping up your internal storm. Change jobs, and the storm follows you. Seek escape by working longer and harder, and the storm intensifies. The fortunate have understanding families, bosses, colleagues and friends who help them ride it out.