There’s a certain point in life where you realise you haven’t liked any new music for a while (with me that happened in 1990) and all film trailers you watch make you think of other films you’ve already seen – y’know, classic films, not this garbage.
Fashion has become a struggle to keep up with (or so people who have attempted to follow fashion tell me; fashion is not really something that ever happened to me), and, seriously, would you really want to look like that anyway?
We all deal with it in certain ways.
Lots of people have a midlife crises; they find a fancy new model of car/spouse/washing machine, fly off to an exotic locale/Blackpool to rediscover themselves, and generally attempt to come to terms with the fact they aren’t the younger generation any more.
Lots of people get through it quietly, stoically and without fuss – other than occasional wistful glances in the mirror and a brief pang when they look at old photos and marvel at how their skin could ever have been so smooth and shiny.
Personally, I was never one for suffering quietly when a loud, extravagant display of emotional distress was an option, so my breakdown was of the “rediscovering myself” variety.
I was never much for cars, and I already have the best wife in the world, but I did buy a new washing machine (mainly because the old one stopped working, and that happening with a one-year-old child in the house is as close to a vision of hell as I ever care to get). I also bought myself a cheap necklace of wooden beads for a couple of euros at an exotic locale.
I have spoken before about the lead hat, which really was the trigger of it all for me. I realised, with some shock, the path I was on was potentially fatal for me. I had been marking time and getting through the days, and I had been on the path so long – years and years of trudging, weighed down by the lead hat that got heavier the further I walked – I had forgotten there was any other way to walk.
My midlife crisis came (as it may to everyone else) in the form of a revelation: there are thousands, or millions, of routes to take, and every single one of them leads to the same uncertain destination. You may as well enjoy the trip.
It was scary – terrifying, in fact – to push past the resistance and take the first steps in another direction. It feels ridiculous, but it’s also honest to say the very first step was buying that necklace.
Crossing the Rubicon
At the time, it wasn’t symbolic of anything in particular, other than I had always wanted to wear a necklace, but worried it might look stupid. Being in the frame of mind that I wanted to do something different, I put it on to immediately confirm my misgivings – it looked stupid.
However, that stupid necklace was a little reminder I had crossed my own mental Rubicon. All it meant, in practical terms, was I had finally decided to join the ranks of middle-aged, but to me it was, and is, a symbol I had taken a step off the path and into unknown territory.
The Nick that didn’t wear cheap necklaces wouldn’t have been brave enough to accept his job was killing him. He wouldn’t have been brave enough to leave the job, take hold of his life and make it into something better. It turned out the me that wore necklaces could do that sort of thing.
Magic and superstition
The problem, therefore, is that taking off the necklace would be, in some way, a return to the previous Nick, the one that was desperately unhappy and didn’t know what to do, and I have a feeling that Nick wouldn’t have been around for very much longer, one way or another. For all I know, the necklace has magical properties – a +5 necklace of insight.
Our minds are strange things, aren’t they? Superstitious and convoluted, and their own worst enemies. I know it’s only a necklace, and an ugly one at that. It makes me look like I’m desperately trying to cling to my youth, which is rather the opposite of the point of the thing. Regardless, I find I am now, logically, unable to remove this cheap piece of man jewellery from my neck for superstitious reasons.
Everyone has been very polite and, so far, nobody has mentioned it. This merely confirms my suspicion that it looks as daft as it feels. It would seem, however, I’m stuck with the bloody thing.
I don’t mind, though. Because, as ridiculous as I appear with it on, I have realised I’d far rather wear a cheap necklace than a lead hat.