What Is a "Crisis" Anyway?
I love my exercise class, which I have attended off and on for over fifteen years now. My favorite part of the class is the friends I’ve made while working out in the back row. At 57, I’m the youngest, and then there’s Linda in her 60s, Ann in her 70s and Francis in her early 90s.
Far from the teacher, we often discuss the meaning of life, the mysteries of the universe and, yesterday, how we each would define a crisis.
Is a crisis anything that happens that we believe we cannot deal with, but then somehow do? We all agreed that many things we might have defined as a “crisis” earlier in life were nothing compared to now.
For example, when we were younger a bad breakup or divorce seemed gigantic, but just in the past few years my friend Linda has experienced the death of both of her parents. Then recently her husband experienced a terribly debilitating stroke. Unfortunately, what she is experiencing is not so unusual for her age.
I am surprised to report that I personally have had five male friends in their 50s suffer heart attacks in the past few years. One died in his sleep, and the rest had stents and pacemakers installed just to keep them going. Another friend recently waited for hours before going to the ER to find out he had been suffering from a heart attack for hours, with a 97% blockage in one artery. Now THAT is a CRISIS!
I feel I have some perspective on this topic with my experience with job loss, a traumatic brain injury, the loss of my brother, my father’s life-threatening illness last year, and major health concerns with my husband recently. If you would like my opinion, I have been seeing the inside of far too many emergency and hospital rooms in the past few years!
Do we define a crisis only by what has come before? Or does age deepen our definition of crisis, and our ability to face each one with ever increasing resilience? How does a crisis in your life change you? Does it make you wiser or stronger, or simply more worried about your future? Will death be the final crisis?
We cannot know our future and so we must learn to live with the sure knowledge that anything can happen to anyone of us at any time. With this understanding, will we make the best of each new day we are given?
Laura Lee Carter, MA Counseling Psychology, is the founder of MidlifeCrisisQueen, where this post originally appeared. The blog is dedicated to helping others turn their own midlife crises into important opportunities for personal change. Besides working as a psychotherapist specializing in Midlife Psychology, Laura Lee writes for national magazines and has also authored books on love and midlife change. Follow her on Twitter: @midlifequeen.