If you're going through hell, keep going.
When I was younger, I would hear jokes of men going through Mid-life crisis’s, where they would try desperately to retain their youth. They would leave their wives and hook up with some twenty something, a girl that could easily be confused as their daughter. They would end up getting a motorcycle, a two-seater convertible, or a speed boat. But as I, and most of my friends, hit this age, I have realized how this trope has changed, and not for the better.
Maybe it’s the fact that this generation of Mid-Lifers dragged their youth and their hobbies into adulthood. Maybe it’s how society has change or the timing of the last economic crisis. Maybe it’s how life tends to creep up on you and makes you pay for all the bad decisions of youth. Or simply it’s how divorces are handled now days or how women are more independent. Whatever the reason, this generation’s Mid-Life Crisis is leaving a wake of men unsure how to handle the broken pieces of their lives.
For those still in early adulthood, don’t worry and don’t rush it, your personal disaster will come sooner or later. For the rest, you know what I am talking about. It’s that morning when you take a hard look into the mirror and can’t see any more the man you could have become. That moment is where you have to make a choice. You either let life beat you or you stand up stronger.
My old martial arts instructor would have us do push-ups with our knuckles, or run barefoot on hot asphalt, or do exercise to the point where you could barely walk afterwards. Yes, he modeled his school after Cobra Kai. His logic is that you grow stronger from hardships. He introduced me to the concept of Kintsukuroi, the Golden Repair.
Kintsugi (Japanese, meaning “golden joinery”) or Kintsukuroi (Japanese, meaning “golden repair”) is the art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer resin dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy it speaks to breakage and repair becoming part of the history of an individual, rather something to disguise. They give the additional value of experience in life.
When you reach this moment in your life, you can choose to ignore it, and stay where you are, or you can choose to grow form it, and become a better man from that experience. To be able to do that, you have to realize the following:
1. Take a hard look at yourself. You got yourself to where you are. It wasn’t your spouse, your kids, your parents, your friends, your boss, or even karma. It was your decisions that got you so broken, so stop blaming others.
2. Look for help. Again, it was you alone that got you there. So thinking that you alone can get you out is ridiculous. Find guidance, be it in the form of a mentor, a friend, or maybe professional help. That means placing your trust on someone else.
3. Find a reason to become better. The most important thing in this process is to find a reason worth fighting for, something bigger than yourself. Maybe it’s your family, maybe it’s a cause, or maybe it’s simply to prove everyone wrong.
4. Accept your imperfections while improving yourself. There are many things about you that can’t change. Don’t let these things eat your soul. Now, there are plenty of things you can change, you can work on to become a better man.
This last concept is called Wabi-sabi. It’s the concept of accepting that you are "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete". This will provide you with an understanding of asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.
You must stop living for the goal and start living for the journey. You appreciate every step you take and every minute you live. Everything now becomes either a success or a lesson. Everyone will become a mentor. And you will understand how every action you take is now under your control.
You just became master of your own destiny.