A well-known spy novel describes this agency where the spies who have made serious mistakes are sent to expiate their sins. The reasons for their failures are diverse: they revealed their identity by mistake, one of them left a “Top Secret” document forgotten in a public place, others were late for a key appointment and, worst of all: those who fell in love with an enemy agent with the usual consequences, etc. In this agency, agents have the last chance to redeem themselves because, as everyone knows, spies do not die in bed.
The last chance looks like this: you hang from a cliff, holding on with both hands to an old root to save yourself. This is how some of us arrive at the so-called “mid-life crisis”, a term recently coined to refer to a series of symptoms of all kinds that accumulate over decades and tend to explode when we are between 40 and 50 years of age. One of the most notorious characteristics of this malady is wanting to change: husband, wife, job, lifestyle, country, friends, whatever it is, but right now!
Although it may seem new, this concern was already well known in Dante’s time. This is how Dante begins the Divine Comedy with this disturbing founding act: “In the middle of the path of life, wandering, I found myself through a dark forest, where the straight path was lost”.
It isn’t easy to describe the symptoms of this modern spiritual malady; however, all around us we can see its fruits: mature men in the arms of young women, couples who have their last baby to try again, sordid romances in the workplace, abrupt changes of appearance, lightning trips to Cancun or Bali, mystical experiences with Ayahuasca in the Amazon, express courses of Mindfulness or Buddhism, shaving your hair into a Mohican, new small tattoos on ankles and hips, purple or furious red hair, men driving motorcycles at full speed, etc., etc.
How is it that people who were previously sure of themselves and their lives, come to this? Didn’t we see them every day in the subway or at work, walking and talking so sure of themselves? Sure of wanting the life they had so dedicatedly built over years and years of mortgage?
It is surprising how little it takes to leave behind that life full of security and material comfort. Many people are daring amidst these times of pandemic and climate change, to change their lives and accept that their midlife crises are but the symptom of something new that is coming: the time when they must accept that the world they knew does not exist anymore, except in that old root from which they hang.
In the meantime, let’s wait in our agency full of failed spies to be called and to be given the last mission to redeem ourselves, and, who knows, to fail again and to fail better.
(c) Photography by Sebastián Silva. https://la-periferia-interior.tumblr.com/