Sometimes I get inspired to write things purely (though rarely) through my own thought processes. Sometimes it will be a trigger in my environment. Often it is a phrase that someone drops into a comment on my blog, or a counter comment to my comment somewhere else.
Here’s the trigger for today’s rant.
I recently wrote about my new summer job as a postal worker. Comments were flying back and forth and in the midst of it all I used the phrase mid-life crisis. The Lilac Penguin, bless her soul, responded with concern regarding my life expectancy. Here it is:
You need to call it a quarter or a third life crisis… Mid would imply you are not going to make it to 76… Let’s shoot for at least 114…
Sidebar: Definitions of other things. Lilac Penguin. Let’s leave the penguin alone. I think everyone knows what a penguin is. But what is LILAC? Try and keep up here. In my world there are 10 colours. Do you remember Roy G. Biv from school – plus black, white and brown. Everything else is just a shade of these or a mix of these. Lilac is a flower. Apricot is a fruit. Don’t even get my started on taupe. Beige is a bad suit that should be burned or donated to goodwill (anonymously in the dead of the night). No discussion will be held on this matter. Artists who wish to protest will be referred to Picasso’s grasp on reality and asked to speak to the hand.
Back to the show.
With my wife studying to be a high school English teacher verbal precision is a necessary survival tool for me. And as a physics major myself, I must offer my scientific analysis of the term mid-life. I don’t want this to seem like I’m picking on the penguin because she was simply the poor soul who lit my fuse. And penguins are naturally shy timid creatures and I don’t want to scare her away.
So here goes. I am 38 years old. Chronologically, if nothing else. If mid-life was a point and I was at it, then the penguin’s argument would be ever so slightly wrong mathematically. Mid would imply you are not going to make it to 76… If, at 38, I was at the exact mid point of my life then I would live to be exactly 76.
But, mid-life by my interpretation is a phase of life, not a point.
The term mid-life implies that there must be other parts. And as it is the mid part, there must be an earlier part and a latter part as a bare minimum. Let us assume then that there are 3 parts, and that these parts are equal in duration, if not quality. I have already professed to currently exist in the mid portion.
If I am at the end of “mid” and about to leave this portion in favour of the latter period, I would have a life expectancy of approximately 57 years. Mathematically it’s simple. If I’m at the end of the second period of a three period life, then two thirds equals 38. It is grade school mathematics to calculate three thirds when you know two thirds. The answer is 57. This finds scientific support from my genealogy, by virtue of the fact that my father died at 62 and both of his parents died before they were 70.
But if I am at the beginning of the “mid” portion then I could conceivably make it to 114. Again, mathematically if one third is 38, then three thirds would be 114. This option has as much scientific support through family history as the original. My mother at 68 has been medically assessed with the body of a 56 year old. Her father was almost 80 when he died and her mother was 99 (she was the only one of 5 siblings to not reach 100).
If each phase was given a name and a definition here is how I would lay it out:
Beginning Juvenile or Growing or Maturing
Middle Living or Enjoying or Experiencing
End Resting or Basking or Reminiscing
Using those definitions, I have possibly not yet entered the middle phase, which augers well for an innings comfortably into triple digits. Especially if hearing the phrase “when are you going to grow up” is any indicator of maturity yet to come.
And based on the brief family history I should live to between 57 and 114, unless I stand too close to Rocky and his Karmic Black Hole in a thunderstorm, and take a hit from a stray lightning bolt meant for him.