Here’s a little story about how Crisis Led to Camping.
I put the words “mid-life” and “shevanigans” side by side because too often the only word sitting next to the oft-frumpy “mid-life” is the oft-exhausting “crisis”. I bet if you ask friends to fill the blank in “Mid-life ___” every single one will groan out a “crisis!”
This never sat right with me. Must mid-life always be marked by a crisis?! Are there no ways to outsmart this assumed inevitability? Surely, with a bit of forethought and planning, a person can predict and pre-accept varicose veins and jiggly waddles and just get on with this business of slow deterioration without all the drama of a crisis.
At age 40, I knew I was going to need something big to pull me through 50.
40 was challenging enough. Being a slightly over-zealous planner, I got right to work, and came up with the grand plan of having mid-life adventure instead of a crisis at 50. Oh, how clever I was with words! I just knew if I renamed it, it would be so. Words are powerful, I knew.
I didn’t know what the adventure was going to be, but it was going to have to be grand and sweeping. Like studying penguins in the Antarctic for a year, or living with monkeys. Knowing I had already navigated mid life and avoided any problems ten years before mid-life even happened made me feel very important and superior and helped me sail through my 40’s believing I was immune to future suffering.
If you are under 50, you might be smiling, assuming you are about to read how how the Clever Kit categorically outsmarted Crisis and lived happily ever after. Maybe you plan to take similar actions to give yourself the same insurance.
If you are over 50, you snorted, because you know perfectly well that Crisis found me anyway. In fact, it walked right up to me (and all my perfect plans), threw the perfect sucker-punch, pushed me into a thistle bush and demanded I show some humility – immediately. Humble I became. Immediately.
And for almost two years I have been (humbly) removing thorns and placing salve on wounds. Truly, I couldn’t imagine there would be any adventure after all of that. I assumed it was one, or the other: adventure OR crisis, but not both. I stayed in that sadness a long while. No penguins for me. No monkeys.
But then came a van. An ordinary Dodge Caravan. A soccer-mom van. I got this idea that although a global adventure was out of reach (due to my ongoing thorn-removal requirements and need to access special salve) I might do well to get out of the city and back to nature. Maybe do some camping. Then, mysteriously and suddenly, I spent thousands of hours on Youtube watching van conversions and doodling layouts on old envelopes. I then named my van “Chance”: Chance, the Camper. Next, I was taking (a) chance -camping! Before I knew it, I was out of the worst of the thistles and in motion once again. Things were changing.
Just for fun, I looked up the meaning of crisis and learned that aside from it’s most common meaning (a time of great danger) it also means “a time when a difficult or important decisions must be made” and “the turning point in a disease when an important change takes place.”
Perhaps Crisis isn’t a terrifying and heartless bully, but an opportunity to make new things happen. To make new choices. Maybe a crisis can be a time of healing rather than a time of decline. It certainly has been a time of important decisions and new opportunities. I’m rethinking this crisis thing. I can digest this kind of crisis. A crisis that results in camping.
With that, I realized I didn’t get bullied by Crisis at all, although it felt that way at the time. I’m in the midst of change, and I have a chance (and Chance the Camper Van) to help move me into this next chapter of life with a renewed sense of purpose joy.
So, in a way, I got Life’s ultimate two-for-one deal; crisis and adventure.
Let the camping shevanagans begin!