Midlife Balance


In a moment of abandon — or obsessive noodling — I dictate “midlife balance” into my digital tutor. The answer is out there, in the internets, waiting, tucked between middle and mindfulness.

Only, it’s not, or not quite, or I spelled it wrong because I conjure up an avalanche of herbal supplements. Magical elixirs for women.

I sense that I’m not in the club. Manopause, yes; menopause, no.

Apparently men need no balance, at least not midlife balance. Or market research is lacking? Or maybe dandelion and red clover and black cohosh and “chaste tree berry” (what?!?!) work just as well for men as women?

I sense that I’m not in the club. Manopause, yes; menopause, no. My symptons aren’t hot flashes or mood swings, and no progesterone moderating herbs, no wild yam will deliver midlife balance.

What is midlife balance?

It sounds good. Midlife balance. Many digital byways guide online oglers to Emerita, a face and body lotion to counter menopause imbalance. Not for manopause; not for rebalancing male midlife issues.

Pop culture and conventional wisdom prescribe zippy sports coupes and overpriced bikes and saucy secretaries when midlife begins to drift off balance. All seem to be in-line with popular self help resources that acknowledge that after decades of sacrifice (think, career-first, marriage-first, family-first, etc.) middle agers often find themselves yearning for what they’ve resisted, put off, denied themselves due to price, time budgeting, etc. For me, cycling and sailing and sketching have fall into this category. I’ve shifted priorities and made more time and space for activities that make me feel more alive.

But I’ll be the first to admit that shifting my priorities hasn’t alway resulted in balance. Something else has to yield in importance to shift my passions out of the wings and onto center stage. After all, there are only so many hours in a lifetime. This has meant downsizing some of my professional and philanthropic commitments and investing time in negotiating with my bride, helping her understand why my priorities are evolving, asking for her patience, her tolerance. And she’s been remarkably supporting and encouraging. I try to offer the same support and flexibility to her. (It bears noting that our childfree marriage is undoubtedly better equipped for these evolutions than a midlife marriage absorbed with parenting.)

But is what we have, what we’re trying to create, midlife balance? Some days, perhaps, but mostly our conjoined lives are an erratic pendulum swing. And I wonder, are we unique in this respect? Is midlife balance a trite and unrealistic ideal? Or am I just letting myself off the hook?

Consider this topic unresolved. I’ll revisit as matters of midlife balance (and imbalance) offer up opportunities to learn, opportunities to share my experience.

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