Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Battlefield, a Bulfinch, and a Mid-Life Crisis

We got walloped with quite a bit of wind and rain last night. It sounds like things have calmed down out there now, but the temperatures are supposed to drop below freezing later this week. I suppose I'll have to bring in that sprawling trailing geranium on our patio. We had it inside for a while (it's visible in the background of this photo) but it began to turn yellow and didn't seem happy, so I put it back out -- but it will definitely not survive a freeze.

We'll all be happy when summer gets here. Last night Dave and I were watching a gardening show, which of course depicted summer gardens in all their lushness with bees and flowers and thick plantings, and it made me long for a change of seasons. Our yard looks like the Battle of the Somme right now -- bleak and muddy and leafless. I'm eager to see what all our new plants do when they grow in again.

I read an interesting article in The Atlantic this week about so-called "mid-life crisis." (I don't think I've had a mid-life crisis -- at least, not yet -- but I suppose there's still time!) According to the article, researchers have found that happiness in life follows a U-shaped curve. People are relatively happy in their younger years -- looking forward to the future, setting out their goals, building their adult lives -- and they're happy in their older years, after some of those unattainable goals have been set aside and they've found joy in littler things. But in the middle, many people experience a slump. Their lives seem to be going well but they thought there would be more.

This resonated with me because I'm right in the heart of that slumpy age. As I said, I don't think I've felt a "crisis" -- in fact my life is still unfolding in surprising ways, which I enjoy day to day. But I don't have any illusions of greatness. I'm not going to change the world. (I never really expected to, so that helps -- I had no false goals!)

Anyway, it's an interesting article.

Dave and I watched the "Downton Abbey" Christmas episode a few nights ago. Does anyone else think that show has jumped the shark? I've often heard it criticized as a simple soap opera in fancy dress, but I really felt it in this particular episode. It's become "Days of Our Lives." I expected Macdonald Carey to come on and intone those famous opening lines.

(Photo: An artist named ATM painted murals of British birds around town. This one, of a bulfinch, is in North London.)


  1. You may be right about Downton Abbey. I'm getting really weary of the bad guy on the household staff. It seems each week someone is staked out as his next victim.
    However, I did so enjoy the little skirmish between Carson and Lord Crawley and the glimpses into people adjusting to the changing times.

  2. I suppose one day I will watch Downton Abbey.
    And listen- midlife crises are real as hell. You may have one. Dave may have one.
    But we mostly survive.
    And the garden will grow back gloriously.

  3. What Ms. Moon said...Mine wasn't horrible--I didn't go out and buy a Sports car or get a divorce--all I did was change careers...

    As for the rest, Downton is soapy...probably why people watch...I liked the beginning episodes but have not seen anything since...

  4. Interesting post. That's an impressive piece of street art in your photo. As for Downton Abby, I read a review that said the new season "unjumped" the shark so I'm hopeful. I do like the sumptuous spectacle of it, even when it devolves into soap opera.

  5. I don't think I ever had a midlife crisis. Maybe I'm lucky or maybe I was just oblivious. Downton Abbey hasn't lost it's charm with me. I'm still enjoying every soapy episode.

  6. Haven't seen but one or two episodes of Downton Abbey but I do watch General Hospital every day. ha! as for mid-life crises, it's all about your expectations and what you think you need to be happy. I don't think I had one per se but there was a point in my life when after dealing with years of an unpleasant situation I was ready to jump. as it happened, the situation changed and I didn't.

  7. I've been thinking a lot lately about the nature of achievement & whether I care about any of mine. I decided that I'm pretty happy in my little corner of the world - so I won't be too depressed about things I haven't accomplished. Now Mike on the other hand - he will definitely have some kind of crisis. I just hope we can both survive it!

  8. Downton is a lark, very enjoyable even though soapy. As middle aged panic goes I don[t know about it...having had a child at fourty I guess I was distracted and just sort of slid into home plate realizing that this is all you get and it truly is enough.

  9. I read that article about midlife crises, and I found it hugely encouraging. The term "crisis" calls to mind all kinds of terrible, drama-filled upheavals that I can't really relate to...but I can most definitely relate the slump the article describes, where you basically wonder whether what you've accomplished is "all" you're going to do with your life.

    Maybe "midlife disappointment" or "midlife reality check" is a better term. I liked the idea that with time, older folks find satisfaction in the accomplishments they have managed to achieve. I guess it's a matter of having more realistic expectations.

  10. Marty: He tires me out too. He's too much of a caricature. They need to do something more with his character.

    Ms Moon: It's fun to watch, don't get me wrong. It's just VERY soapy. I do not question the reality of the midlife crisis, but I do think the intensity varies from person to person.

    E: Changing careers is a GOOD thing, especially when your previous career is journalism. :)

    Angella: The new season was better. The Christmas episode -- ugh.

    Sharon: I enjoy it too, I do. I still watch. But I AM doing some eye-rolling.

    Ellen: Well, here's to waiting out a bad situation! As for General Hospital, I haven't seen that since the "Luke and Laura" days!

    Bug: I really think the secret to happiness is finding contentment in day-to-day life. I think not being very ambitious has spared me a lot of trouble.

    Linda Sue: A lark, exactly! I didn't realize you had your son at forty. Bravo for your courage!

    Lorianne: That is a great way to put it. "Midlife Reality Check" is a MUCH better term. It's not even a disappointment, necessarily -- more just a self-assessment and, yes, reality check. I love that!