The end-of-life crisis is much more deadly

IF I meet one more person suffering from a lid-life crisis I shall feel obliged to turn it into an end-of-life crisis for them.

I’m sorry if I seem unsympathetic but, damn it, I am having a crisis of my own coping with the plethora of crises in which 21st century, civilised people live.

There are being-a-woman crises and being-a-man crises; there are being-busy crises and not-being-busy crises; not-having-a-job crises and being-overlooked-for-promotion crises; and then there’s the mid-life crises.

Anyone who hasn’t learned to cope with that after surviving all the others probably ought to be in a mental institution anyway.

But compare, if you will, the mid-life crises (and all the others) with life for, say, an Eskimo and his “Oh-dear-my rifle-has-frozen-up-and-the-polar-bear-is-charging-like-a-six-star-hotel” crisis; or the Kalahari pygmy with his “Oops-I-am-stung-by-a-deadly-scorpion-and-I-don’t-have-any-private-health-insurance” crisis.

Nor do they have counsellors to help them cope; nor stress leave, nor any other kind of leave.

They probably don’t have a word for stress. We, on the other hand, who risk our lives on a daily basis with nothing more taxing than 4WD drivers and the frozen food section of the supermarket, have lots: pressure, strain, tension, worry, trouble…

And, boy, have I seen some mid-life crises! In case you’ve been looking in the mirror and wondering whether you’ve caught one, let me give you a few answers to some of the questions you will be asking youself.

No, you are not as good-looking as you used to be and men and women (we are talking generally here) do not find you as attractive as they used to, especially the ones to whom you are most attracted.

No, your reflexes are not as fast as they used to be. No, you are not as healthy as you once were.

Yes, there are younger, more attractive faster, fitter people than you racing up behind and they are going to take your job and your women (well, the ones you hanker after, anyway, and perhaps even the one you’ve got).

This isn’t called a mid-life crisis. This is called life. And, what’s more, there is worse to come.

Your mid-life crisis will soon be followed by a late-life crisis and, believe me, that’s a lot more terminal.

Do not imagine it will necessarily manifest itself as a massive heart attack, either. It is much more likely to be very ugly toenails and problems with your feet that require a chiropodist because you can’t reach them yourself any more.

It will strike as unexpected flatulence that embarrasses your wife (if she’s still with you) and makes other movie-goers snigger.

It will involve hairs growing in places they never used to with the speed and appearance of a bramble bush. It may even involve someone helping you with your trousers when you go to the lavatory.

And most of all it involves the certain knowledge that you don’t need to go to a counsellor or a psychiatrist because the cure — the definite, no doubt about it, 100 per cent guaranteed cure — is just around the corner.

Is this depressing? Of course not. This is life! (well, death, actually, but it’s still not depressing).

And as I watch the others struggling up the hill behind me like army cadets gasping their way through the assault course, there is a certain mirth in the thought that when they get up here, where I am, they are going to find the only way down is a sheer cliff!