Vision Correction As a Metaphor For Midlife

Would you like to know what the essence and the root cause of the midlife crisis is? Would you like me to let you in on the Big Secret? Actually, it’s not really a secret at all, but it is BIG. The infamous midlife crisis is nothing more (and nothing less) than a crisis in meaning. My personal background includes a lot of time spent researching Western philosophy and theology. From the outset, I’ve been consumed by a curiosity to know, “What does it all mean?” Like it or not, accept it or reject it, embrace it or run from it, that’s what makes the midlife transition so life-shattering: it brings you face to face with the Question of all questions.

Not everyone can look this question dead-on in the eye and face the answer that emerges from the darkness and confusion. After all, by the time this question emerges, decades of life have already passed full of comfortable assumptions. You’ve assumed you knew where you came from, where you are, and where you’re going. Yet, once the Question steps up and stares you in the face, all other bets are off. What seemed like a rock-solid foundation you could stand on with confidence and security suddenly reveals itself as quicksand masquerading as solid ground. Having the courage to ask, “What does it all mean?” does more than take you to a deeper level of understanding; it signals a paradigm shift of huge proportions.

The assumptions that we all grew up with taught us how the world works. It taught us that humankind has been around a very long time and has a tremendous body of knowledge to offer us. We learned that wisdom was to be found in history, tradition, and culture. In fact, perhimagesaps the greatest loss to humanity might have been the day that Julius Caesar burned the fleet in the harbor of Alexandria, Egypt, and inadvertently set fire to great library there. That library contained copies of all the amassed knowledge of the then-known world; much of it was lost forever in that fire. Yet, enough survived to teach you how you ought to believe, to think, and to behave. You were taught the principles of right and wrong. Even today you are a child of human history, and your story is inextricably linked to the story of all humankind.

Yes, that’s all very true. But: what does it all mean? The midlife question does to your thinking what Einstein’s Theory of Relativity did to Newtonian physics. As the quote from The Messiah’s Handbook from Richard Bach’s novel, Illusions, states, “Everything in this book may be wrong.” You see, only part of the meaning of life comes from outside you. That’s the realization that shatters your illusions of security. Besides, the part of that meaning that you’ve acquired from outside (from your experiences, from what you’ve been taught, from the wisdom of the ages) only serves as a backdrop or as some points of reference for the real source of meaning: YOU. You are, indeed, the meaning-giver. You decide what makes sense and what doesn’t, what works and what doesn’t, what’s appropriate or inappropriate. At midlife, you take a huge bite out of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.”

It’s that nakedness that telegraphs the pain of midlife right to the core of your being. That’s the moment when you realize that success and happiness can’t come to you by following someone else’s formula. The Judeo-Christian Scriptures say that you were created in the “image and likeness” of God, and God, if nothing else, is Creator. The full import of that tradition only comes upon you when you fully realize 1) that you are responsible for the world in which you find yourself; 2) that you are not – and never were – a victim of circumstance; and 3) that you cannot escape your responsibility to create a meaningful world for yourself.

The midlife transition invites you to take the journey from the world of the child-victim to the world of the adult-creator. It becomes a crisis only if and when you choose to decline that invitation and remain in the world of the meaningless. What, then, is ‘happiness’? Only you can decide. What, then, is ‘success’? That’s up to you. What is your Destiny? Only you can know. What is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’? You can know only that ‘right’ is becoming the person you were meant to be, and ‘wrong’ is being unfaithful to yourself. No one (but your divine Spirit) can tell you who that should be. No one can tell you how to achieve your goals. You’re on your own. The training wheels are off. What does it all mean? What’s it all about? My friend, it’s all about YOU.

H. Les Brown, MA, CFCC
ProActivation® Coaching

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Copyright © 2008 H. Les Brown

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