Kill Some Darlings
This post came about as a result of questions presented to me for an interview by author Geraldine Donaher. Since it was a crisis in mid-life that set me on course to "kill some darlings," I thought it serendipitous of her to ask the following question:
Many people view a ‘mid-life crisis’ unfavorably. I know you well enough that you probably have a creative, positive name for ‘the crisis’. Would you consider your writing career something that you began mid-life?
I’ve put myself into one or usually a combination of difficult situations. I believe what is most helpful about growing older and accumulating the pain of consequences of decisions is identifying the cycle that’s transpired from the choices I’ve made. Without realizing what I was doing, I constantly reevaluated my position but made choices that kept me on a path of insanity (doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result). Do that enough times and you’ll certainly run smack dab into the wall in middle age that’s referred to as the “mid-life crisis.”
I believe many people view a mid-life (and any other crises for that matter) unfavorably. That’s because it drives us outside of the comfort zone. Humans are lazy by nature. We all choose easy over what appears to be difficult at any given moment. Why not? You’d be a fool to cause yourself pain if you didn’t have to—until you’ve been serving the ideals that aren’t yours for far too long.
A mid-life crisis is simply your psyche’s way of saying you can’t be someone you’re not any longer. You’re not on a journey for your highest good. It’s a crisis of soul. The reason I believe it happens sometime in mid-life is because life keeps people busy. Then a day comes when mortality raises its ugly head and holds up the scalp of that nagging old dream, you know, the one you were encouraged to have as a kid until the reality that people packaged and sold was too good a bargain to pass up.
Everyone who is not being true to themselves will have a crisis of soul. It’s not a bad thing. Actually I highly recommend it. If people love who you are, so many more people will love who you actually are. Shed the shame, shed the guilt, shed the façade and breathe in life. It truly is very short, happiness is the only quest and honestly no one has ever been on their death bed saying, “Wow, I wish I could have been far more stressed out.”
Life isn’t about the things you’ve done, it’s about the things you’ve loved. If you don’t know where to start, start with loving this very moment. It's all we have anyway.
When I came out on the other side of my crisis of soul I started writing. And although it’s easy to have regrets, I subscribe deeply to the concept that it all happened perfectly. Every decision I made led me down the path that dumped me into the life of a writer. I have nothing to begrudge for that.
I had always tried to write but never had anything to put on paper. You have to have lived to write. You have to have something to write about. You have to have a story to tell and stories are about conflict. I feel like I can say I now have stories to tell.