“It is utterly false and cruelly arbitrary to put all the play and learning into childhood, all the work into middle age, and all the regrets into old age.” Margaret Mead – cultural anthropologist.
It’s so true that middle age seems steeped in work, duty, and obligation. By the time most of us reach middle age, we have lives layered with responsibilities. Of course we’ve brought much of this on ourselves through the ambition to get ahead – thus we’ve worked hard, purchased a house, perhaps made the decision to have children, and likely embraced the desire to have more material things than need requires.
The scramble we undertook in our twenties, thirties, and forties now means we have our children’s post secondary educations to pay for, a home to maintain, vehicles to service, and on and on. To add to this we might well have aging parents, personal health issues, and a host of other concerns which suddenly loom large. Layer by layer our lives are tilted away from relaxation and fun, or limited to one or two week dollops of freedom that are carefully planned and anticipated – the vacation.
When my son’s friends are together, I’m always struck by how much they laugh (and how loudly). But relaxing and having fun is too often the exception in mid life. Parties are few, as are spontaneous outings with friends – we’re just too busy with work and domestic duties, and our energy is increasingly limited. But Dr. Seuss got it right: “Fun is good.” We need way more of it.