|Double page art journal spread created in Jane Davenport's online class 'Create Emotion'|
It seems to me that a midlife crisis is one of those first world problems (not a bad kind to have...) I'm not sure it's actually a 'crisis', and I don't think you have to be 'midlife' to have one. I came to art courtesy of a midlife crisis. It was something I tossed out in witty (obviously) conversation one day without much thought. Then I got home. OMG, am I actually having a midlife crisis? (Well, I said 'OMG' so I can't be that old.... or is a compulsion to say things like 'OMG' a few steps away from the cliched red sports car?) Apparently, a midlife crisis is more appropriately termed a midlife transformation these days. Yes, I do like that better. And, it turns out you don't need to be mid-life, to find yourself facing a bit of a crisis. Essentially it is just a transition point. The space between one phase and the next. I'd like to think that means that some longer term goals have been realised, and new longer term goals are ready to be made. In the best light it is a chance to surrender to the fertile void between these life phases and be open to possibility. It is a chance to let go of trying to fulfill the 'shoulds' which probably arise from the expectations of others rather than your own. Time to reassess what is actually important to you. Marcia Reynolds explains in Psychology Today that these transition points often occur in the transition into a new decade, when you turn 30, 40 and 50. At each of these points the questions that arise are different. At 30 it's probably career choices; at 40, life purpose and from 50 it's most likely to be about legacy. There is a lot of truth in that for me, although I reserve the right to another 'crisis' regardless of whether there is a zero in my birthday! Google will turn up countless lists of symptoms of a midlife crisis. Most, if not all of these include some creative compulsion, like the desire to learn a musical instrument, paint, draw or write. This makes perfect sense to me. If you are at one of life's transition points, you are probably asking a lot of questions. What do I really want out of life? What matters most? What is the best way to spend my time? These are really just some new problems to solve. And creativity is our problem solving equipment. Doing something creative gets that 'right brain' going. It's a chance to play, explore, experiment and discover in a low risk environment. We encourage kids to do this all the time. Don't we deserve the same?