Mid-life crisis is just bowing to the reality

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The real crisis with a mid-life crisis, according to the late novelist Martin Amis, is that the worst crisis of all occurs if you don’t have one.

Or as he once put it: “It would be creepy to get through it without some cracks showing.”

Amis – the enfant terrible of the British book scene – died earlier this year, and on his death the BBC repeated a revealing interview he gave to journalist and critic John Wilson in which little was off limits.

The author was always good for a headline in his lifetime and that made him a fascinating subject for interviews generally – but the poignancy here was that he had re-evaluated his own life long before the Grim Reaper called.

His philosophy summed up that evolution from youth to middle-age as reality bites.

“If you can define youth,” he told Wilson, “it’s the feeling you get when you look in the mirror and you say to yourself: ‘while I’m intellectually convinced that I will get old and die like everyone else, it does seem that you’ve got away with it – that it’s not in fact going to happen to you’.

“And as long as you can still feel that in even the most frivolous parts of your brain – as long as there’s still a glimmer of that – then that’s your youth still there.

“But the minute you accept the universal truth, then it is going to shake you profoundly.”

So in many ways, his definition of this mid-life misfortune is more accurately termed a crisis of mortality – that dawning of the day when you first realise that you won’t after all become the first person who will live forever.

Deep down, of course, you knew this all along, but it’s not the job of young people to think that life is finite; even when they see death around them, somehow it seems to only happen to others.

But then the bones start to creak a little and getting into the swing of the day takes a little longer than it used to.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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