One of the best classifications of stages in a person’s life is characterized in the ancient text of the Vedas. The ancient stages had scripted four stages that any man’s life must pass through. These were called ashramas or abodes. Of course the interpretation can be different for the word ashrama by different people.
Taking in account that an average person would live (in those ancient times) for hundred years, these ashramas were suggested to be for 25 years each. Brahmacharya Ashram, Grihasta Ashram, Vanparastha Ashram and the Sanyasa Ashram. And the people would religiously transgress into the next ashrama when the time came for transitioning. Thus, there was an eternal flow to life. And this flow continued for thousands of years.
Cut to the modern age of industrialization. Although science has advanced and made newer inventions and discoveries that claim that mortality rate has declined. Yet, the average life expectancy even in developed and developing nations is not more than 75-80 years. On that premise, the middle age with reference to anyone expected to fall off the tree of life at 80 should be 40-43 years of age.
What exactly is the midlife crisis and does it affect only a certain class of people, whether economic, demographic or otherwise? The following paragraphs make an attempt to dissect the problem at hand, the problem of mid-life crisis , and would also attempt to look at possible solutions for the same.
Age old Institutions — A solution to Midlife Crisis?
Although societies have moved on from the ancient way of life where there was a strict class and division of labor norms, combined with the Ashrams that are discussed earlier, the fabric of life more or less still remains the same. Hence, we can see that whether it is the ancient age or the industrial age or even the post industrial age that we now live in, many institutions have more or less remained the same even incorporating different deviations.
One example is marriage. From Polygamy to Monogamy and to different deviations thereof, society sill believe in celebration of that institution and regarding living out of marriage as taboo.
Post Partum Pains
I know this sub heading may raise eyebrows. But worry not, I am not exploring the angle of too many births and population explosion or even a micro analysis of a woman’s pregnancy related pains and joys.
All I want to emphasize here is the post industrialization age where automation and robotization took over much of the production and computers and robotics are threatening to replace the basic human touch of creativity and creative production of goods and services.
One may think what has that got to do with mid life crises. In a way, I too got confused as to why did I take this lane instead of zooming straight on the highway that leads to the subject conclusion. One reason is although we need to know of the crisis which is a macro concept, the root lies in the micro aspect.
Whether you are a person who has lived life as a part of the group and taken the safe, tried and tested way of life or lived life in the fast lane or tried going against the tide, it is your choice. However, it has been seen that nature affects all living beings in more or less the same way. Similarly, the phenomenon doesn’t leave out people who have not taken to a certain lifestyle or skipped certain stages either out of choice or compulsion.
Firstly, let’s analyze this problem from a typical person staying anywhere in the world. The so called powerful middle class person who lives in a mirage fed to him by various agencies like the media and popular belief.
These people go through the stages of life as if they were in a hypnotic trance. School, College, Job, Marriage, Child rearing, Retirement and then a peaceful death. Mission accomplished.
For them midlife crises maybe non existent to a couple of skirmishes with their life partner. However, since they are accustomed to living their life in a certain set pattern, they seek retribution in continuing the ‘tunnel vision’ life that they have accepted since even before they were born.
Alternatively, these zombie types may seek to look outside their structured lives dabbling in an extra marital affair till they are jolted back into their mundane lives or seeking a higher path and then entering another ‘tunnel vision phase’ of imagined bliss.
On the other hand, there is a certain section of people who either out of choice or due to certain prevailing conditions have missed the typical ‘bus of life.’ Not that they commit suicide, but they live the ‘zombie’ or ‘tunnel vision’ life alone till they hit middle age and then MLC strikes. It is when they are surrounded by people talking of the typical things that happen in their lives. And the ones who have not lived the ‘tunnel vision’ life seem to be missing out.
Whatever the situation that a person may live in, the mid life crisis or MLC is a stage that cannot be avoided and has to be passed through. It depends totally on the person who goes through it to solve the crisis. This is because life is not an exact science like mathematics or Physics where a certain equation solves the problem and takes the seeker to a definite conclusion.