Do you remember that film? When I saw it, I remember thinking how well crafted the script was and how fantastic the acting and direction had been.
I also remember thinking there was a small kernel of truth to it. That was when I was 30 something. Now in my 40's, I find myself in something that looks a lot like Kevin Spacey's life.
We have so much literature and so many films of this mid-life ennui and yet we learn nothing. We are a culture that values nothing but youth and progress and the false hope and delusion that the world is your oyster.
There comes a point in all our lives when we can no longer compete in a world of faster and faster change. The sad thing is that our culture does not value wisdom.
I'd like to come to Kevin Spacey's epiphany. But in real life, nobody cares about our epiphanies.
The idea of a mid-life crisis is hogwash. There is no crisis. It is simply the experience of ageing in a world that glorified youth. Unless you've lived your life on the edges (as an artist or philosopher), it happens to us all.
We focus a lot on the coming of age story, of the young woman or man trying to find their way, discovering their sexuality, and the beginnings of understanding that life is more complex than our sheltered childhoods have led us to believe. But we have little support for the real coming of 'age' and the death of our dreams. With an ageing population, facing redundancies, we continue to treat our middle aged workforce as if they are 'lacking enthusiasm and too slow' rather than 'experienced and wise.'
For we who are over 40 - who is there as our support network? Who cares for us and helps ease our transition to the next phase of life? We who sacrifice ourselves for the young have no support in our own ego annihilation. The generation gap is more hog-wash. It is not inevitable. It comes from a sudden collision of the former 20 year old with biology and the inevitable changes of age. At the one end, those who are still young lack empathy or real concern for the future and live under a delusion of invincibility. And, at the other end, there is no support in this adjustment from youth to aged from our own parents. They are likewise needy and looking to us for care taking.
We in the middle are neither valued nor supported, yet we are like Atlas, holding up the world. When will our knees give out and we drop that globe? I don't know, but I can certainly see a rapid rise in over 40 depression on the horizon.
I know there is a theme of ennui in my blog. There are no real-world epiphanies in 92 minutes, and our lives are not beautifully shot and scored.
The old path fails me and I'm coming close to bottoming out. Old dreams have to die. I'm just trying to understand it all, and find my way. I've chosen not to be a parent and I no longer want to try to hold up the world. I'm trying to find my way to freedom and my own sense of contentment in a world so full of repression, alienation, neediness and loneliness.
In the words of the narrator of American Beauty:
"I'm 42 years old, and in a year I (could) be dead. Of course, I don't know that yet. And in a way, I'm dead already.....You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry. You will someday"