Some people when they hit their 40s and 50s go through what is known as a midlife crisis. This is the time in life when, if you believe in the propaganda of our consumerist society, one should have reached the pinnacle of one’s career, reared the prescribed 2.5 children, obtained the house with white picket fence, and finally have one’s proverbial “shit” together.
In reality, this rarely happens. Even if you do have a successful career, nice house, well-adjusted kids and happy marriage, some people’s (usually unrealistic) expectations of how their lives should have turned out in adulthood are wildly amiss with where they actually end up.
This can cause people to fall into depression, suffer anxiety and/or make drastic – and often harmful or hurtful – changes in their lives. No doubt you’ve heard the old cliché about the 50-something year-old-man buying a sports car and chasing younger women. Or the woman who ran off with the tennis instructor/pool boy. Maybe you know people who have done just that.
Brian and I never really followed the “normal” path to adulthood or coupledom. We met young (at age 19 and 20), but didn’t marry until 10 years later. During those 10 years, we traveled the world – both together and separately – chasing various personal and professional opportunities. Our travels took us to London, Israel, Australia, South Africa, San Francisco, and finally back to Boulder, Colorado, where we first met. We worked jobs we were passionate about (teaching, photography, wildlife filmmaking, writing, wildlife rehabilitation and conservation, startups and nonprofits), rather than climbing the corporate ladder. Unlike most of our friends, we had our first child 10 years after marriage and stopped at just one.
But by the time we hit our early 40s, life was starting to look pretty “normal.” We lived in a nice house in the suburbs, we were new parents, and we had been in our same jobs for several years. While we loved our lot and the comforts of the suburbs, after a while we started to get the feeling that life was passing us by – that we’d wake up in another 10 years and still be in the same place doing the same thing and our daughter would be nearly grown up.
This was our midlife crisis.
However, unlike the cliché, we tackled this problem as a team and didn’t let it drive us apart. We instinctively knew what we had to do – tap back into our old wanderlust ways. So, we unplugged from everything we knew and moved our family to Mexico for a year.
We had wanted to take a year off in Mexico long before we actually did as a way to reconnect as a couple after several painful and failed attempts at getting pregnant. But after our daughter was born (I like to say she was my last good egg), our motivation took on an even greater urgency and purpose. As older parents, we knew we had limited time with our only daughter. We would be 60 by the time she was in college, and who knows how our health would be by then. I don’t want to sound all doomsday, but you never know what can happen in life. We have had several family and friends face life-threatening health issues in their 30s, 40s and 50s. All we knew was, that at age 43 and 44, we weren’t getting any younger and we wanted to spend as much time as possible with our daughter while she was (and we were) still young.
So here we are 2 years later, and we still haven’t left Mexico. What was originally a one-year plan in response to our midlife crisis, has turned into a lifelong plan resulting in a mid-life awakening.
We are awakening to the pleasure of spending an extravagant amount of time together as a family and as a couple.
We are awakening to the simplicity of living without the constant pressure to consume and compete.
We are awakening our inner creativity and becoming artists, writers, collectors and makers.
We are awakening to the fulfillment of spending copious amounts of time in nature.
We are awakening to the joys of unstructured, unplanned playtime with friends.
We are awakening to the lightness of being that comes from working less and living more.
These are some of the many reasons we have chosen to stay in Mexico for at least another year.
That is not to say we don’t miss Colorado or our friends and family in the U.S. We do – terribly. And that is not to say that life in Mexico is all roses all the time. It’s certainly not. But, at the end of the day when we calculate the costs and benefits of this adventure, we still end up ahead by staying longer – at least for now.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. Stay tuned for more updates and reflections on our life in Mexico. And, as always, I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment, question, rant or rave below. Gracias.