“Trying to unweave, unwind, unravel
and piece together
the past and the future,
Between midnight and dawn,
when the past is all deception,
The future futureless,
before the morning watch
When time stops
and time is never ending.”
T.S. Eliot, ‘The Dry Salvages’
Let me say one thing first: If you are younger than midlife, and you’re reading this, I warned you! You must first ground yourself with firm feet, and devote yourself completely to life so that you are a vitally living member of society. You must situate and strengthen your ego in the outer world, before you take on the tugs of the second half of life when your soul will grow legitimately curious about the other worlds hidden within. If you find it almost impossible to do this, you might check out a recovery program.
Let me say another thing second: If you’re happy in your fishbowl, you do not have to leave it. You do not have to quite your job, leave your spouse, or drown the kids. Anyway the kids already live in your fishbowl. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
But, some say Individuation is a calling.
Now for the story…
…Once upon a time, there was a little fishy who was born and raised in a (name your own fishbowl). He learned his lessons, and his manners, and did everything the grownups told him to do, for he was a good little fishy and he wanted to remain in the fishbowl–not go to hell. When he was thus prepared he was ready to step out of his fishbowl castle home. He went to college, got a job, got married, bought his own castle home, and had kids. He worked very hard, for he was a (name your brand) fish now. And (name your brand) fishes’ lives require the exact accoutrements to decorate the house, the wife, and the kids.
Then the day came when being successful didn’t consider into the fact the 1-ton weights on his feet made it difficult to step into the circuit of his normal routine. He felt stuck in his job, stuck in his marriage, and stuck with responsibility for everybody. He felt like he was stuck in hell.
“How can this be? I’ve lived my life so perfectly,” he puzzled.
Here’s the deal: His entire life has been prearranged by prescriptions and proscriptions.
Anthropologists focus on one particular definition of prescription, in opposition to proscription. Behaviors prescribed by a society are expected to be enacted; proscribed behaviors must be avoided.
He started drinking too much. He became distant, disinterested, and disintegrated. He started wailing inside his head while trying desperately to walk the straight and narrow of pre- and pro-scriptions with the 1-ton weights on his inebriated feet: “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Where am I going?”
“What is the meaning of life?” Here we have a good example of mid-life crisis.
This is where the story starts getting good.