I had a breakdown the other day. Not a “throwing stuff at the wall, cursing all around me” breakdown. A “tears started streaming down my face with seemingly no connection to what was going on around me” breakdown. So I decided to figure out why that happened.
I get that at 50 we’re supposed to be all about the mid-life self examination and reflection and that’s why so many 50 year old men buy sports cars and the women get chin lifts and cheek implants. Got it. But, I didn’t do that. Didn’t even WANT to do that. At 50 I was fine. It was just a number. I was proud that I had made it to 50. I enjoyed the perks of being an AARP member (free donuts at Dunkin!). 51 was fine too. Surreal just because at 16 you can’t really even conceptualize being 51. But 52…ah…52.
Let me first say that this time of year is difficult for me anyway. My dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor 2 days before my birthday in April of 1994 and died that same year on Father’s Day in June. Rough spring…rough year, and so spring always gets me a little grumpy. But this year…whew.
So, I broke it down and realized my “crisis” had been delayed. I was having it at 52. Then, because that’s how my mind works, I asked myself, “Why? Why a mental meltdown? Why now?” The answer came to me rather simply. And when I looked back in time, logically. It’s happened before. Major emotional epiphanies don’t happen as scheduled. They happen when you least expect it because they need to.
When I turned 50 and even last year, I was kinda prepared for a bout of depression to hit. I had been in conversations with friends questioning their life choices, but I had just shrugged. Don’t get me wrong–I’ve made some bad choices, but I felt I’d come to terms with them. Understanding that while with wisdom I perhaps would have made different decisions, the decisions I did make made me who I am and colored the reason my life is like it is. A “that’s life” attitude, if you will. That’s what I had. But the other day…
I was sitting in my hotel room during a break from a conference I was attending. I was staring out the window at the beautiful golf course and fountains surrounding me, watching as 4 golfers played a hole all the way to the green. Each taking a putting shot at the hole. No one making it and then each grabbing their ball off the ground and walking back to the golf cart–done with that hole. I was confused. No one had putted their ball in the hole. Not a man.
Wasn’t the point to get the ball in the hole? Didn’t you keep hitting it until it finally fell into the hole? That’s one reason I didn’t play golf. I knew I had no skill at getting the tiny white orb into the far away hole. I even suck at putt-putt. You can’t fail if you don’t try.
I looked at the hole and back at the golfers sauntering away from it. None of them looked back at the hole. They were clearly finished with it. And so I cried.
Now, I’m not really trying to make some great analogy between golf and my life. That would be too contrived. But that little incident made me think. Here I was at a conference I wasn’t really interested in, in a hotel on a course of a game I never played, tearing up because this was where I was at 52. So, I need to change something.
I’ve made that vow before. But I want to stop crying. I am 52…it’s not a bad age…it’s not even that old (especially if you’re over 60). Sure, every spring is gonna be harder than the rest of the year—but maybe if I just start small. A small change every…what…month? Yeah. Month. That’s 12 changes or adjustments each year. Ok. First change–more blogging. Writing may not be my passion…but it is a lifeline for my brain. I need to do it more. Maybe it will keep the breakdowns at bay.
Maybe I don’t need to get every ball in every hole. Maybe sometimes I can just pick up my ball and drive away from the hole. How’s that for a lesson?
See, told you. This wasn’t about golf.