The photos in this post are from a new dinner-guest set I did recently. You can see them on the main homepage.
Next year I’m turning 40, and I’ve been gingerly anticipating the much talked about crisis which should precipitate right about this (arbitrary) time of life. Or maybe it’s not that arbitrary: we’re creatures of pattern-finding after all, and once we see a pattern we imbue it with meaning. So ten fingers, ten years, something meaningful has to happen every decade so why not a crisis.
The most obvious manifestation of male age-related chrisis would be an “oh no, what am I doing with my life, I ought to get a motorcycle or some other external manifestation of movement and direction”. A couple of years ago, while I was permanently
unemployed freelancing and had little daily routine, I didn’t feel this as much – today, when I’ve had the same job on going on four years, been in a stable relationship for eight, and have set a new low in personal productivity, a motorcycle seems a fit.
Or at least a metaphorical motorcycle. In my case the motorcycle has manifested as a light body dysmorphia and a feeling that I ought to better myself and do something with my life. Be a positive force in society, engage politically, write a book. Create an app?
The body dysmorphia is an odd thing. It started out as a general “let’s get fitter” feeling, moved towards “ok, lets focus on powerlifting and get strong”, took a detour past “I look like flabby going on fat in the vacation pictures”, and I’m now entertaining ideas of labelling all food in the house with a calory count and amino-composition. Beginning as an offhand joke about looking better in holiday snaps, I’ve now internalised an unhealthly self-image and it’s a habit as difficult to give up as smoking.
As I recall, I wasn’t as preoccupied by my looks when I kept my mind occupied, so perhaps it’s just a symptom of not getting enough creative work done. If the sum of our quirks is constant, it’s only because we understand some quirks to be endearing or part of our personality and drive, that we distinguish between feeling fine and “not ourselves”.
(I shouldn’t exaggerate the body dysmorphia part – I’m not starving myself or call myself names in the mirror or somesuch. It’s a difference in degree though, not essense, so perhaps body dysmorphlight?)
In the spirit of seeing all problems as rationally solvable (even if the means might be irrational) I’m trying to come up with ways to occupy my obviously wandering mind. (I have computer games and Netflix, but that tends to exacerbate the malaise – especially in combination with my periodic depression.) There’s plenty of creative work to be done at work, but I don’t have the time to do it since administration takes up my days. The art projects I have going on have all become long to-do lists, and as much as I enjoy creating those it’s demoralising when you can’t cross stuff out every once in a while. The biohacking lab I’ve been trying to start hasn’t gathered traction and we’ve yet to do anything productive.
Maybe it’s not another project I need (“I ought to play the piano”, “I ought to read all the books”) but a a sounder approach to life in general? Oh dear, that sounds like another kind of midlife crisis symptom, doesn’t it? I have been looking at meditation retreats, so maybe it’s not a hobby I need to find but “myself”? Oh dear.
Or maybe reasserting control over my everyday life and tidying up is exactly what I need to get priorities straight? Perhaps I could just fix all this with a long weekend cleaning up, tossing books I’ll never read, arranging our bills in a spreadsheet and finally settling on how to sync my calendars between computers and phone? Too much in my life is just running along, so grabbing my LAN by the balls, fixing a proper NAS backup and deleting old files might be just the spring cleaning my mind needs?
Come to think of it, the time I feel most relaxed is when the apartment has just been vacuumed and tidied and I can make tea without having to navigate dirty dishes. So if I start there, and do some pullups in between, perhaps this spring can start out a bit more harmonious? Ok? Ok! Let’s start by creating a todo-list…