You often think negatively about middle age. It is not a stage of life, which you await with excitement.
Middle age is the period of age beyond young adulthood but before the onset of old age. Various attempts have been made to define this age, which is around the third quarter of the average life span of human beings.
Humans usually stop making babies in your early 40s. After this age, the reproductive system normally does not function well. Yet, humans are exceptional because you don’t curl up and die. Data from Life Insurance Companies suggests that in the fifth and sixth decades of life, you are less likely to die over the coming year than at any other time in your life.
Imaging Studies show that middle-aged people may use different brain regions to do the same old tasks. Cognitive tests show that apart from brute speed, the brain’s abilities are not diminished in middle age. They may be reaching their peak.
Although bone mass and muscle mass declines, rarely do things get so fragile that they snap. You find middle-aged people telling supposedly sharper and stronger young adults what to do.
Biologically, the middle-aged human body does not look like something being left to slowly decay. No one starts breaking hip at 40, or no one still looks youthful at 60 – well, not naturally, anyway.
Long-sightedness is almost unknown at 35, yet is universal by 50. The same is true of reduced skin elasticity.
The changes which do take place in middle age are so precisely controlled and carefully permitted that they simply cannot result from creeping failure and decay. In short, the changes of middle age are too abrupt, distinctive of this phase of life. .
There is a controlling force at work in middle age, which allows a few parts of your body to suddenly fail, while maintaining the rest in good condition.
Indeed, the changes of middle age represent a developmental stage of life, as distinct and real as infancy or adolescence. Middle-aged development is programmed into each of you. You possess the genetic recipe for long, healthy, human middle age. And we owe that genetic inheritance to hundreds of thousands of years of human history, during which – contrary to what you might think – humans frequently lived into their fifth and sixth decades.
Common versions of the “crisis” frequently involve a variable mix of three phenomena occurring sometime in the 40s.
- First, a degree of emotional flux and uncertainty – an “intrapsychic” reorganisation.
- Second, humiliating urges to seek out the romantic attentions of younger women.
- Third, a tendency to revert to childish behaviours, interests and recreational activities.
All in all, it is remarkable how undefined the mid-life crisis seems when you all think, you know exactly what it is.
The mid-life crisis is a fable – but you all love fables, don’t you?”