The Change for Men
Last month I wrote about The Change in the lives of women. We easily forget that men too go through a midlife change. We call it the Midlife-Crisis, often with a bit of a smirk. We might think of men who, midlife, suddenly leave their wives and “swap them for a younger model”, of men who buy a heavy motor bike or a sports car. It’s a bit of a cliché and we tend to think of them as lads who don’t want to grow up. There might be a little bit of truth in this because men too face the challenge of taking the next step in their development. Maybe they achieved a lot; they are successful and earned their money. They are focussed on material success and have no clue what should come next at middle age.
In our culture we lost the knowledge about the phases of life, of initiation into the next stage of our personal development. Some middle-aged men start to suffer from depression and say: What now? I have achieved what I wanted to achieve, yet everything seems meaningless, empty. Is this all I am, a provider? They are totally identified with their work and status and all they know to do is: going after more, money, power, sex; more of the same. But this doesn’t cure the emptiness.
For them too it would be about grieving the loss of youth and learning to accept it. Getting older is for all of us about becoming more mature, wiser, of handing on to younger people what we have learned and experienced. It’s about examining our lives and finding out what we want to do with the rest of it. Maybe for these men it would mean to work a little less, to spend more time with their families and on their own! Maybe they even should leave a dead marriage but can’t find the courage.
It’s about learning to look inwards and discovering a whole new universe in there. Many men fall into the trap of trying to prove that they’re still young and virile while unconsciously they begin to fear their own mortality but refuse to face up to the fact that one day they too will die. And, I think, to become aware of all this is in a certain sense even more difficult for men than for women. Women are forced by their bodies to confront these issues while it is not that obvious for men that a new stage of their lives is beginning. If they try to deny this fact, they may become sick or grumpy old men, bitter and disappointed. But if they accept the challenge they could become whole and wise human beings. What’s wrong with ending up on a garden chair, watching the world go by, peaceful and wrinkly, with a knowing smile on your face?