THE BLOG
09/05/2012 02:13 pm ET Updated Nov 05, 2012

A Different Way to Have a Midlife Crisis

My wife and I are hitting that age where everyone around us seems to be experiencing some version of a midlife crisis. A few marriages have ended, some are floundering, and others are just drifting along in a coma-like stasis of school runs and Facebook statuses and working later and later at the office just to stay on an even pace toward nowhere in particular.

As we, of course, are immortal, we don't have to deal with such concerns, but it's easy enough to see how a sense of fading youth can lead both men and women to look outside their current work and relationships for a last chance to suck the marrow out of the bones of life while there's still enough testosterone or estrogen in the tank to make a decent go of things.

Perhaps because I was so discontented when I was younger, I've never particularly feared the disillusionment that seems to accompany this stage of life. After all, I've been asking questions like "How did I get here?" "Is that all there is?" and "What's it all for?" since I was in my early 20s.

But I used to assume that the most meaningful answers to these questions would come on the far side of my midlife crisis. After whatever last-ditch attempts at recapturing my youth have failed, my personal concerns would ultimately give way to concerns for the wider world. And after succeeding at getting to whatever level of externally-validated success I could, the ambitions that had been honed in me via cultural conditioning would be replaced by the loftier ambitions of my soul. In metaphysical speak, I would go from manifesting parking spaces to manifesting cars to manifesting world peace.

More recently, as I've seen more of the inside-out nature of life and recognized that I experience my thinking and not my circumstances, it's become apparent to me that a "midlife crisis" is really a crisis of identity.

To the extent that I identify with my body, my crisis is fueled by a last-gasp effort on the part of my selfish genes to reproduce themselves at least one more time before they are relegated to the scrap heap of the past. To the extent that I identify with my personality or ego, my crisis is fueled by an Ozymandian attempt to achieve immortality through great works, achievement, accomplishment, or service.

Yet to the extent that I identify with whatever impersonal energy, force, or intelligence it is that animates not only our bodies but the entire world that they inhabit, a midlife crisis is no more or less than an invitation to awaken to our true spiritual identity. In that way, we achieve immortality not by reproducing our genetic code or leaving a legacy, but by recognizing that at our core, we were never really mortal in the first place.

If you're dealing with (or have dealt with) a midlife crisis of your own, I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below!

With all my love,
Michael

For more by Michael Neill, click here.

For more on spiritual development, click here.

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