I would like to introduce you all to Jared A. Carnie. He has recently signed up with Urbane Publications and is having his debut novel published later this year. Jared has written a thought provoking guest post for my blog.
Life is a series of mid-life crises.
It doesn’t matter what age you are.
A mid-life crisis is a fracture. A rupture in the balance between adventure and settling. The battle between youth and adulthood.
This is the situation as T.V would have it: You’ve finally bought a house. Maybe you have kids. Maybe you’ve found a job you’ll probably see through until retirement. Your parents have passed away. You realise you’re going to pass away too. Not in some abstract sense in an unimaginable future, but really, at some point, you understand that you’re going to die. And you panic. Is this it? Is this what I’m going to do for the rest of my life? Have I really done enough? What about all those things I always promised I would do? Wouldn’t the young me be disappointed in what I’ve become? And that’s when the cliches come. You get that sports car or get the old band back together or whatever.
So why is it called a crisis? Because that’s not what people want from you. People like you to be a fixed, finite entity. You’ve secured a house! You’re winning. You should stick. You don’t need to twist anymore. You’ve got a family and a job. There are millions out there who would give anything to have what you have. Why isn’t that enough for you? People don’t appreciate you acting out. People don’t appreciate you seeming dis-satisfied. They’re dis-satisfied, of course, but they don’t talk about it. They certainly don’t do anything about it.
Here’s the thing. That’s not just middle-age. That’s every age.
When you hit puberty and you discover sex and drugs and poetry and music it seems impossible and ridiculous that instead you’re forced to learn algebra. What does that have to do with anything? Don’t these people know we’re going to die soon?
By eighteen you’ve probably experienced some tragedy. A friend dying young or a family torn apart or any number of awful things you never could’ve predicted. You’re older now. You want to get out in the world and get started. But instead you’re told about university. You must get your grades. You must choose the right university and get the right degree or you won’t get anywhere in life.
So maybe you do go to university. You get that degree. This is it now, you’ve been held up long enough. Now you’re really done, right? You’re a qualified adult and you can do what you want.
Except, of course, now you’re in massive debt. Now you’ve got to get a job. And that’s not easy. It won’t be the job you trained for. It’ll be whatever you can find. It’ll be exhausting and unfulfilling and everyone will tell you how grateful you should be for it. At least it’s money, right? Maybe in a while you’ll be able to quit and move to South America. Maybe you’ll save enough to take time off work and just paint. But then there’s other people your age. They’re having kids and getting houses. Are you going to be one of those people who hit their thirties with no idea of what they’re doing in life? Potentially still living with their parents and no nearer to being able to afford a house? Everyone tells you: don’t be one of those people. Secure your future. You’ve got to.
Meanwhile, more terrible things are happening. Relatives are passing away at an alarming rate. People you went to school with develop unimaginable illnesses and you watch their deterioration anonymously and sadly on Facebook. There isn’t time. There isn’t time for this.
And suddenly you find someone. Sure, you’ve got a big mortgage now but at least you’ve got a place together. Your job isn’t what you dreamed but you’re doing well. The mortgage ties you down but at least you’ll have somewhere for the kids. And now the kids are here. And you’ve got to stay near the good schools and now isn’t really the time to start your career over with how tight things are. And now your parents are ill. And now your parents are gone. And your children are growing up quicker and quicker and your body is aching in ways it didn’t used to. Maybe now’s the time. If not now, when? Maybe we cut down on a few things this year. Maybe we finally pack up and move away. Maybe now’s the time to explore the world. And that’s when you’re ridiculed. That’s when the cries of mid-life crisis appear. Isn’t this enough for you? Don’t your family make you happy? People would kill for the job you have. Why would you risk all that? And you can’t quite shake the idea that they’re right. Besides, you’ve been paying into your pension all this time and when you retire you’ll really be free, right? That’ll be when it really happens. That’ll be the real freedom.
From childhood to retirement the battle stays the same. Life is long and life is short. You need to prepare for the future. And you need to live while you have the time. How do you strike that balance? When it comes down to it, what is your priority?
It is difficult. It comes dressed up differently but it’s a problem everyone faces. For me, there’s actually something kind of reassuring about knowing that every daring, brilliant thing that human beings have ever accomplished was done to a backdrop of people cynically saying “’yes, but what about your future?”
My debut novel, Waves, will be out Summer 2016 with Urbane Publications. Amongst other things, this is what I like to think it is about.
About Jared A. Carnie
Jared A. Carnie is currently based in Sheffield. He was awarded a New North Poets Award at the Northern Writers Awards 2015. His debut novel, Waves, will be published by Urbane Publications in Summer 2016. He can be found at www.jaredacarnie.com or on twitter @jacarnie.
‘Waves’ can be pre-ordered on Amazon:-