Thursday, December 4

American Beauty 1999



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"


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16 comments:

puerileuwaite said...

Hi Pinks. American Beauty is a favorite of mine for the reasons that you mention. For some reason this post really resonated. Well written.

foam said...

yes, i can definitely relate to this post, pink. i am constantly on the verge of bottoming out. 42 seems kind of a long time ago to me though ..

The Lone Beader said...

It's all in how you think, I think! Just live life one day at a time!

/t. said...

pinks,

you are
so beautiful!

i wish i could be there
to give you these hugs & kisses
&
this little bit of heart

*sigh*

¤ ¤ ¤

<3

Little Lamb said...

Such is life.

Tug said...

Yeah, I get this...and yet I've never seen that movie. I may have to look it up.

Ur-spo said...

pish posh to this quote from the movie
Midlife crisis means the usual external nonsense of life has been addressed by 40 and now real inner work begins. That is the 'crisis' to change direction towards wisdom.

Indigo said...

Indigo Incarnates

Yup... I can relate. I had to give up on a few things because I finally realized they were just never going to happen. The biggest change in path was when I finally got to the point that I could accept that the Christian God was never going to love and/or accept me. But the Wiccan Goddess does, so the change in path has been for the better. But the events leading up to that change were pretty rough.

boneman said...

yeah...American Beauty....dang.
What a depressing ending.

Oh, sure, I hate 'Disneyesque' endings anymore, too, because they are so unbelievable.
'Live happily ever after' my butt!

But then, dang. This guy didn't even get a fighting chance at it.

Well, whatever.
For better holiday movie watching, Hudsucker Proxy (Paul Newman, Tim Robbins), Troy (Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom), or even the Bourne group (Matt Damon, and the bad guy from American beauty, Chris Cooper)
but, for some great laughs and to get your head out of being depressed?
Funny Bones, with Oliver Platt, Lee Evans (brilliant performance!) and Jerry Lewis.

Hope you cheer up some, gal.

The Phosgene Kid said...

That's how I was able to function during the war, I just told myself I was already dead and just got on with business.

Mrs. Phos wouldn't allow me to have a midlife crisis. I don't care to be young again, but I wouldn't mind having my hair back...

/t. said...

i miss
neither
being young
nor my back hair

<3s to pinks

/t.

NYD said...

For me the crisis of passing 40 was having to put away all of the childishness and prepare myself for a whole new set of responsibilities.
It meant learning to use my brain a little bit more than my brawn.
Maybe that's why Lester Burnham failed.

You can't go backwards. And really, why would you want to.

Art said...

People accused me of having a mid-life crisis when I bought my little sports car but it really wasn't. In fact I think I'm happier and more content in my 40's than than at any other time...

Pink said...

I agree you can't go backwards and who would want to? I'm not longing for my lost youth as much as realising what a delusion I had lived under, as a youth. The world is not your oyster and in this competitive work work, we will ALL become expendable one day.

If anything, I am bemoaning the fact that the world is run by youth who are deluded by their own grandeur and feel invincible they 'have no idea what I'm talking about'...but they will someday.

And, whats more, I feel some grief I guess, over being valued only in terms of signs of youth - vigour, speed, brashness.

I am saddened that I feel nowhere valued for my depth of wisdom.

And I stand in the shoes now of all the generations that have gone before me. If only I had known, when my mother was alive, what it was to be 40.

xx
pinks

Ruela said...

I love my age ;)

The Phosgene Kid said...

I still miss my hair, especially when it gets cold out.