Monday, June 16, 2008

Call it a mid-life crisis, if you have to

So, last wednesday I went and got my first (and only - EVER) tattoo. Since people have been learning about it, I have heard comments like, "Well, I guess it was only a matter of time since you got that motorcycle" and, "Wow, are you having a mid-life crisis or what?" I have been thinking about that idea of a mid-life crises. I guess getting a motorcyle at 40 and a tattoo at 43 does conjure up some image of a guy with a bad comb-over buying a Corvette or leaving his wife of 20+ years for a beautiful woman who just "makes him feel younger." However, as I think about it, I am not conscioulsy trying to "recapture my youth" or "trying to feel young again." I have been young and there were parts of being young that are not worth doing over.

Part of my being young was about being driven by "shoulds" and "oughts" that got from my family and from my understanding of faith. Because I was often very judgemental, I assumed others were as well and I tried to not do anything that would seem "bad" or "too crazy." I wanted a motorcycle as teen, but my parents said no. The best I could do was 50cc Honda Express Scooter. Top speed was a whopping 30 mph (when you were going down hill.) When I got married, Lynda said she would be too afraid for me to have one and she threw in that her father called them "Murdercycles." So, I scratched that off the list. Over the years Lynda and I have had talks about it and we are much better at communicating now. (That one sentence could be a completely separate post sometime.) For Father's Day several years ago, Lynda gave me the Motorcycle Safety Course and I completed that and got my operator's license. After another very long series of events that needs a separate post here, I got my first bike.

The motocycle was one thing; the tattoo something else. I have thought about one for years. Had ideas about designs (just in case I ever REALLY got one.) My brother-in-law got one a few years ago and I thought that was good for him. My sister-in-law got one and I just thought it would be too painful. Then my brother recently got one. I went with him for his and watched. While there I talked with the artist who did it and a few weeks later, I had my tattoo. (If you want to know what that tattoo is to me, follow the link above and read the comments.)

So, I am 43 now. I love my wife. I have great kids. My job goes pretty well most days. I teach Sunday School. I am involved in several organizations. I am pretty happy. I have been in lots of therapy for myself over the years. At 43 I have been doing life review of sorts. I have had some regrets. I have regreted that 17 year-old I used to be that thought he knew what was right for himself and everyone else. I regret that I spent so many years afraid of others' opinions of me. I regret the fears and anxieties that have ruled my life. I regret that because of those fears and anxieties, I did not let people get too close to me. I regret that I spent so much time in my life feeling lonely. So, I am 43. I have some life ahead of me. I want to live that life to the fullest. I want to experience some things in this life (within some kind of reason). I want to laugh hard and love deeply. I want to have good friends and enjoy my family. I want to help others be the best that they can be and not tell them what to do. I have reflected on my past and tried to correct for the future. That is a mid-life review. I don't feel a crisis about it, but if you have to call it a mid-life crisis, I guess it is okay. I am not so tied up in what you think about me anymore anyway.