First, I must admit that I’m not sure I totally understand what a midlife crisis is. But I have it in my mind that it's something that happens to a man when he begins to realize that his youth has slipped away. In an effort to regain something of the “glory” of his youthful days, he does something radically uncharacteristic for a man of his supposed maturity—like have “an affair” with some younger woman, or buy a totally impractical, expensive, flashy new sports car.
I can tell you that neither of those things appeals to me.... not in the least. I may be experiencing mid-life crisis, but I’m not experiencing selfishness, foolishness, and blatant stupidity. At least, I hope I’m not.
I’ve got it in my mind that I can have a positive midlife crisis—something that may, admittedly, prove painful to my wife and children, but it won’t destroy my family. Fact is, Marlene and our boys all approve. They are a little shocked, but they approve.
I will not belabor you with further ado. I will just tell you plain and simple....
I bought myself a banjo.
Now, some of you may be thinking: “You bought a banjo? That’s supposed to be evidence of a midlife crisis? That’s a pretty lame midlife crisis!”
Well, it’s my midlife crisis and I can define it any way I want. :-)
What you do not realize is that for me to buy myself a banjo is completely out of character. I don’t know nuthin’ about playing any musical instrument. I’m 51 years old and I’m a total musical ignoramus
But, looking back, when I was 41 years old, I was a total chicken butchering ignoramus, and I learned myself that. I ask you, can playing a banjo be harder than butchering chickens?
Actually, I’m sure it is. The way I see it, a man can become very proficient after butchering somewhere around 1,000 chickens. Calculate the average time spent butchering those chickens, spread out over a few years, and you’ll end up with maybe 100 hours total.
But, according to a banjo book I bought, it takes around 2,500 hours of practice before you become really proficient at playing the banjo. So, yes, learning to play banjo is harder than learning to butcher chickens. I’m not taking this on without some realistic understandings about what I’m getting into.
Unlike so many other people out there, I did not grow up in a musically-inclined family. When I think about my parents and grandparents and aunts and cousins, I can think of only one person who played a musical instrument—my aunt Carolyn played piano and accordion.
So, you see, this really is totally out of character for me to do. Besides that, I just don’t have time to learn to play a banjo. But I’m gonna do it. My excuse: It must be a midlife crisis.
In my next essay I’ll tell you all about my new banjo (she’s a beaut), and I’ll tell you about my banjo teacher, and maybe I’ll show you a picture of me and my new banjo. Oh, and I'll tell you why, among all the instruments in the world, I chose the banjo.
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