I had an epiphany this last weekend. I realized that I really am in the middle of my midlife crisis. I had to look at my recent behavior and I was unable to see it any other way. Without boring you with the details of late drunken nights seeking the affection of beautiful women who don't meet the 1/2 my age + 7 = minimum acceptable dating age, or how in an effort to recapture wasted youth I've decided to walk away from all the security I've wasted my youth building, I can say that I've realized a mid life crisis is two things...
1. It's pathetic. It's sad to see someone (especially yourself) trying to play catch up. We both know that you just can't catch up. Even though I'm not old (we covered this in my previous blog post "Feeling a bit anti-social"), I'm definitely not in my early 20's. When you see someone in their late 30's working hard to act the way that makes guys in their early 20's really annoying to be around, it makes you want to throw up in your mouth a little bit.
2. It's a lot of fun. Once you remove the judgement of how pathetic it is, all you are left with is a great time. Having your biggest priority on any given weekend (or weekday) to be out chasing a good time, hanging out with friends who you love, trying to make out with all of their friends, may leave you with a feeling of emptiness and a hangover, but it might also leave you with a great story!
I'm pretty sure the midlife crisis is just another way that we as animals seek immortality. Every instinct we have as animals can be attributed to our desire to live forever. Some of our instincts are designed to keep us alive right now. After all, how can we ever live forever if I can't live just a little bit longer right now? My hunger, thirst, and fear of being burned alive are all there to help me live just a bit longer. Mind you, this isn't an irrational fear of fire, but the one time when I was mostly asleep and I woke to the thought that I was about to catch fire I was really surprised at my bodies unconscious overreaction! Thank you lizard brain survival instincts!
Even my sex drive and inability to resist the temptation of young fertile looking women can be tied to my knowledge that I am not immortal, and therefore must make an awful lot of copies of myself in the hopes that my genetic code makes it just a little farther down the road until maybe we make it until forever.
The one part of my midlife crisis that I feel is not pathetic at all is my change of careers. This came from the knowledge that I am not immortal, and that it would be silly to leave this world where my greatest creation was a 7% increase over projected revenue in 3rd quarter fiscal year 2022. Maybe I'm driven to create in the hopes that one day something that I photograph lives beyond me. If that is the case then I better keep working, as I'm not quite at that level yet.
One of my favorite ways to be immortal is to be remembered by those who you leave behind. The predominantly Mexican (although popular throughout much of latin america, and even celebrated here in Portland, Oregon) celebration of Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead in english, is a holiday specifically for remembering and praying for friends and family members who have died. Not only is it a way for a culture to give a little bit of immortality to those who were unable to stay alive forever, but it also happens to have a great visual component to it as well.
I ran into Veronica, my Colombian friend, on her way to the Portland Dia de los Muertos celebration. She was dressed in black, with a red flower in her hair, but my first question to her was "What, no sugar skull?" The sugar skull is the style of face paint popular for Dia de los Muertos, and it is a pretty cool looking face paint when done right. This conversation quickly devolved into planning a shoot. We were able to finally make it happen this last Saturday.
I want to start taking more interesting photos. The only way to do this is to get in front of more interesting subjects. My hope is to travel the world to the most interesting places and just happen to be at the right place at the right time, effortlessly push the shutter release, and viola! But as my mid life crisis has me in the process of short selling my earned like a responsible adult condo, I don't have the ability to dedicate as much time as I want away from home just yet. So I'm learning to be an artist, or more importantly, a producer of art. As Veronica didn't have on the makeup I wanted on the 1st of November (and I didn't have my camera with me anyway), I was left to either settle for not getting the picture I wanted, or simply producing it later. After seeing my friend Tanya's daughter Bella in amazing sugar skull makeup for Halloween, I knew I had my makeup artist. A few discussions about wardrobe and accessories, and a top hat borrowed out of my friend Jessica's awesome hat collection and we were ready to head to the cemetery to shoot.
Like a pro, I had on my confident game face. I was a little bit uncertain if I'd got the look I wanted. Looking at the back of the camera showed the scene much as it looked, and I knew it would take a bit of treatment in post processing to get the dark and dreamy feel I wanted the images to have. Like any good artist I went home with the raw images and sulked in self doubt. But all the doubt in the world can't hide the fact that I actually do know a tiny bit about photography and now have the ability to take my imagination out of my head and turn it into a photograph. Not perfectly, but when it was done I was very pleased with the results.
So as long as life hasn't proved me mortal yet, I'm going to keep chasing my immortality. Hopefully it will be an interesting piece of art that we can all enjoy. Sorry if all this talk about life and death is a bit of a downer to you. Don't worry, in the end it isn't nearly as bad as my future mid-afterlife crisis blog post will be after I've perfected this immortality thing. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to borrow my dads convertible and cruise the community college campuses to see where I misplaced my youth!