【明報專訊】In our teens, a midlife crisis felt lightyears away and was, therefore, a comfortable territory to joke about. The man who has developed a centre bald; our uncle who bore a beer belly; the lady who secretly splurged on botox; our teacher who was increasingly irritable because of her menopause - all were handy victims of our relentless judgement. Midlife and its curious impact on adults were like any other artificial repercussions - bankruptcy from excessive gambling or breaking your nose from pungy jumping - nothing worth our noble empathy.
Before we notice, midlife knocks on our door: hiking-mates now opt for quiet beer nights; six-packs sneakily merge into one squishy mass; hair loss becomes obvious. More often than not, people complain about their jobs, lack of motivation, and being tired of their own complaints. On a bear day for the stock market, fellows splurge on hairy crabs because apparently, expensive food has, on the spirit, the effect of botox on the skin. Everyone speaks of financial independence and retiring to some islands with pristine beaches that currently nobody has the time to visit.
Also obvious for midlife adults is the sudden elucidation of inevitable mortality. We seem to all have friends who developed terminal illnesses or passed away due to various misfortune. At the same time, we become acutely aware of the power of birth and the certainty of death. We nurture the innocence of our children with the uneasy knowledge about the world. The awkwardness of growing up gives way to the struggle to stay a responsible grown-up. Sometimes, we are clumsy about it.
Last week, I farewelled a friend leaving Hong Kong. Once an active basketball player, he now has a belly with the character of a basketball - round and bouncy, which his little daughters love to gently elbow.
"Why are we leaving, dad?" the girls asked.
"Because I am gaining too much weight. We'd better head off to a place where exercising is easier," he lied.
"You mean losing this?" the girls continued to paw his belly. "There really is no need. We like it!"
Mona C. has a strong appetite for stories. Feed her enough.
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