Is it even a proper medical or psychological term, diagnosed for the purpose of identifying, addressing and remedying the undesirable condition?
Will this condition lead one to resignation, depression and even suicide? And what can one do about it? Can therapists, psychologists and maybe, one pricy over-the-top session with Tony Robbins help?
Today's article by Ignatius Low says it well about this condition with this catchphrase of a title: "Surviving a mid-life crisis".
He wrote that he just turned 45 (three weeks ago) and at that threshold point, he felt something that "he couldn't quite put (his) finger on it."
He asked around and realised that something called mid-life crisis happens just about his age or later, that is, there is a meteor-hitting range between 45 and 65 years of age.
So, for Ignatius, it came too early or too soon?
I am 48 this year, and I guess by that range, I should be experiencing one just about anytime soon.
In fact, I wrote about it some time back in my blog and admitted to an intermittent visitation of a nagging sense of existential numbness very much like a driver taking an 8-hour trip to nowhere on a long, straight and uneventful road in a dreary and rainy day with no sunshine in sight.
FYI, that feeling that one can't put a finger on in fact has a definition. Ignatius wiki'ed it and here is what it says:-
"Mid-life crisis is a transition of identity and self-confidence brought on by events that highlight a person's growing age, inevitable mortality, and possibly shortcomings of accomplishments in life."
Alas, there are three things you cannot do without if you are deemed to be going through the dark tunnels of what is called a mid-life crisis: that is, growing older (or old), nearing the grave and falling short.
And you can't avoid the first thing. Neither can we avoid the second.
Unless you happen to stumble upon a fountain of youth in some godforsaken corner of your HDB or private estate, the telomere in each of your chromosome will not be extending itself forever.
That's another way of saying that the grim reaper with his over exaggerated sickle will be waiting for you at the end of your mortal journey. And that journey will definitely end. There is thus a tombstone with your name on it in the near future.
While you can evade taxes as the Panama affair has shown, death makes no exception or provides you no haven. The rich and the poor, famous and unknown, stand on the balancing scale of mortality on even footing.
And as an aside, even immortality have their own issues. Just look at the dysfunctional and war-torn household of Zeus and I think you get the drift.
So, the point for us mortal men is, "Why fight the inevitable?"
And if death eventually becomes us one day, and for those above 40, it may come sooner than expected, why not just accept it and treat it like a faithful grandfather clock gently reminding us intermittently rather than a specter rising from nowhere, when we least expect it, and haunting us indefinitely?
At this juncture, it may seem like I have calmly resigned to my own mortality (at age 48?), but I have not. Surely not.
If truth be told, death still scares me. Every slowdown, ache or numbness in my ageing body and mind tells me a grim tale of how I am going to go disquietly into the night one day.
While I have attended wake, funeral, cremation services and a commemoration, I have yet to attend mine.
So, pardon me for stating the obvious, I have still yet to meet my grim reaper face to face.
I sometimes even wonder whether he will be glad to see me and take me in my sleep, or dread every bit of it as I struggle with him in the hospital bed with hands still clutching on to my loved ones, refusing to let go.
That evening (Oct 2016), when I saw my brother-in-law (only 38) lying on his bed in his home with loved ones surrounding him was the closest I came to death.
There and then, I saw the face of death; it was nevertheless still a perennial struggle to the end. I felt the touch of death; it was lonely, heartbreaking and cold. And I heard the whisper of death; it was to let go.
And whether it was time or not, it was really not up to my brother-in-law. I realised that death does not set his clock to ours. It sets it to his, and while it is inevitable, it is dastardly never certain. The torment is thus never about its inevitability, but its uncertainty.
Yet I thought about that evening often when I recounted my own mortality. From a mortal point of view, death's timing always sucks.
The reality is, not all can say that they will die at a ripe old age when all their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will be there to say their last goodbyes before they quietly transfer their grip from life to death and make that irrevocable transition.
But, paradoxically, at least for me, the uncertainty of death carries with it a message. It is a message that I find is the only antidote to the third thing about mid-life crisis as defined above - that is, "possibly shortcomings of accomplishments in life."
There are many "inevitables" of life, and one of them is that if we measure our life against what it could or should have been, we will always come up short. That's unavoidable.
Nothing is without its flaws. No one can match our expectation all of the time. And no union, career and worldly achievement is perfect.
There is always a gap and a lack in our pursuit for a flawless or perfect what-it-should-have-been life.
With the limited time we have, whether it comes sooner or later, I've come to realise that a contented life is essentially about its depth, and not about its length.
And because the length is uncertain, the anchorage of our certainty is with the depth. That is something within our control, at the very least.
As such, the ultimate question is this: To what depth am I prepared to go in my marriage, my relationships and my friendships?
Or am I chasing one depthless ambition after another and reaping much success as ostentatiously displayed in the worldly landscape of my many achievements, yet the same is with little depth (or roots) to anchor my sense of identity, contentment and fulfillment when death threatens to blow it all away?
If I bother to change my lenses, of how I view life in its entirety, I believe I will see that the deeper I go into relationships, the more fulfilled I will be when the time comes. So, when I have enough depth, that is, firm roots, I earnestly believe that the length will take care of itself - somehow.
Alas, there will no doubt still be a strong vehemence against letting go when it's my time. But the assurance is that I will have invested enough in the depth of those I leave behind, and that will ultimately ease the passage of accepting and embracing the inevitable.
The ease will unavoidably come with some struggle though; however, it will be something that death cannot rob me of, and that is, my brief life on earth that my loved ones will remember for my love, hope and a spirit that chooses to fight on for what anchors my soul and yields enduring meaning. And I trust the same will be their legacy and empowerment too as they live their own life to the end.
And I believe a life lived this way will not experience any mid-life crisis, but instead a mid-life maturity and resilience that is accompanied by an after-life celebration, eventually. Cheerz.