I had never really understood this concept of middle age blues till, of course, I hit middle age myself. Isn’t that true of all of us that only the problems that can afflict us are worth considering while problems that may or may not afflict other people may as well not exist?
Now if you are all agog to hear about hypertension and cholesterol, please skip over to another blog. If you are eagerly scanning this piece for nuggets of wisdom about how to deal with rebellious teenagers, I am afraid you are digging in the wrong mine. Nor, indeed, am I about to satisfy the thirst for knowledge about how to attain Nirvana. For all such trivial problems you can approach a doctor or a psychologist or the nearest guru – for none of them can be granted the exalted status of Middle Age Blues.
Put simply, Middle Age Blues refers to that state of angst where the middle aged man feels the purposelessness of his life. (I shall not debate that stupid idea that it refers to the quest for a problem where no real problem exists!). The young always have a purpose even if it is only to get the autograph of the latest starlet to shed her clothes on the Silver screen (or the latest hunk to do the same, lest I be accused of sexism). The old know the purposelessness of purpose – since there is no purpose to be achieved by their having a purpose, given the shortness of their remaining stay on Earth. So, this is something that peculiarly afflicts the middle-aged.
I classify people with Middle Age Blues in three categories. I make no pretense of having made a comprehensive classification of all middle-aged people who are so afflicted and, most certainly, this classification does not encapsulate all middle-aged people.
The first category – call it MAB1 – comprises of those who had worked towards a goal and achieved it. Now, they suddenly find that they are unable to think of another achievable goal to work towards for the rest of their ‘productive’ lives and find themselves moving around aimlessly. To illustrate, assume someone had set himself the goal of becoming the Chief Rat-catcher in his town. Let us say, he does become the Chief Rat-catcher in the town by age 45. Now he sees an endless vista of life chasing the rats and rat catches of his town; no viable possibility of hitting Chief Rat-catcher for the State within his working life – so feels blue. In short Middle Age Blue 1!
The second category – MAB2 – comprises of those who have been working towards a goal and find themselves so far short of it at middle age that they have no conceivable way of reaching it by the time they come to the end of their ‘productive’ lives. Consider another person, who has also yearned with every fiber of his being to become Chief Rat-catcher of his town, and has only managed to hit Assistant Apprentice Rat-catcher by 45. The exalted station of Chief Rat-catcher is so far ahead of him that he cannot conceivably aspire to reach those wondrous heights before he is chucked out of the work-force and, thus, feels blue. In short Middle Age Blue 2!
The last category – MAB3 – comprises of those who have been working towards a goal and, regardless of how close they are to the goal, they suddenly discover that they actually liked a different goal after all and working towards this goal was a colossal waste of time that had denied them the opportunity to try to achieve their real goal. Like a person who wanted to become Chief Rat-catcher; is currently Additional Chief Rat-catcher; and discovers that he really does not want to spend lives chasing rats but wants to chase butterflies instead but it is too late to become competent at it. This type of Blueness is MAB3 (maybe MAB3A since a person who has been floating with the tide without a goal may suddenly be afflicted with that goal achieving disease and become blue thereby falling in MAB3B).
If you start citing old people who are afflicted by one of these or young people afflicted by one of these, the problem is not with the analysis but with their mental age. As for the middle-aged who are not afflicted by any of these, it must be because they have used all their thinking faculties on those silly problems I mentioned at the beginning; or because they stick to their goals and achieve them only close to the end or because they find a new goal that seems achievable to them or because they have learned to enjoy floating with the tide.
You cannot give any dissertation of this nature without someone poking his nose into where you belong in the above categories. Actually, in none! There is one last category – people who float with the tide and continue to float with the tide happily since no-one told them that Life should have a purpose!
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