Another chapter from a book mariner wrote 25 years ago about what’s important and forgot he wrote it! Must not have been important . This chapter continues the theme of what is important in different stages of life.

Perhaps the hardest age game is the mid-life game. The mid-life game is important to folks from about forty-two to fifty-eight and being a true existentialist really helps. This is a strange and challenging game. As usual, what’s important is anything that’s not really important. What’s important is the hair that’s not there, the career that won’t happen, the young girl who isn’t interested, and the prince who won’t come. What’s important in this game is what the shopping malls, automobiles and other augmentations can do to hide the rapidly climbing years. You can’t look backward to vitality and forward to wisdom at the same time. But you remember the thirties games. To hell with wisdom. Naturally, it’s the wisdom that’s actually important about mid-life: you’re old enough to be wise and young enough to have the energy to put it to use.
The mid-life game has gambits (a word from chess that means going out on a limb), a technique which other ages don’t use very much. Some examples are: extramarital affair, divorce, changing career, obsessing about something that is not important, like immaculate lawns or golf, and even some scary gambits like alcohol and abandonment. Each gambit is a deliberate way of looking for what’s important. These gambits are dangerous because what seemed important before isn’t important any more and what’s important now may not be important later. That’s why it’s called a gambit. It is possible to come out ahead but it’s a chancy way to find out what’s important. Someone almost always gets hurt during these gambits — including you.
So much for looking back to the virile thirties. If you make it through the mid-life game intact, it’s on to wisdom.

Next: Sixties and seventies

Ancient Mariner

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