Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Midlife Opportunity

I’m 45.  (Ok, OK!  46 next month ...) Old enough to remember waxy bottle candy, young enough to still bust it out on the dance floor when the DJ takes pity and spins some vintage Prince.  You know, before he became the “Artist formerly known as Prince.”

If I’m blessed enough to inherit my family’s longevity and stick around till I’m 90, then I’m technically standing square in the middle of the journey.   And I feel it.  Every. Single. Day.  The wicked passage of time.  A blessing and a curse at once.

What I’m experiencing at this midpoint is an urgency to accomplish that which I haven’t done yet.  But then also, a peaceful centering that beckons me to inhale the scent of my children’s necks, not so little anymore, but still tantalizing.   To breathe in a moment of joy and hold it.  It is a place confusing and unsettling, and also blissful.  Better get some stuff done, now. On the other hand, I also want to stop and smell those roses I keep hearing about.  What’s a “Pretty in Pink” era girl to do?

I’m reliving some of my teenage angst, I guess.  There was a sign on my door in college that read, “Future Journalist Inside.”  I haven't achieved that dream exactly the way I once envisioned it - jet setting the world shining a light on the plight of the oppressed.  Writing stories about heavier things. That future always seemed so broad, so distant.  I had so much time.  That dream and a few others are still works in progress, and I’m staring at the stark reality that if I don’t make them happen no, RIGHT NOW, time could wave her insidious finger at me.  I’ve been walking around with 5 unwritten books noodling in my head for the past decade. I mean, when I am I actually going to write them already?  When will I start giving myself the same time and energy I give my family and clients?

I wonder if many women feel this way at midlife, and how our experiences differ from our husbands' and brothers'.  Perhaps they crave the rush of a fast car to land them back in touch with youthful vigor.  Or engage in a harmless (hopefully) flirtation to affirm that they’ve still got it.  Or wish they had taken a left instead of a right in their career.  Those are the stereotypes anyway.  But I really don’t know, because men are still a mystery to me, even after logging almost 20 years as a wife.  (Put that one on my midlife “to-do” list, figure out men.  Check!)

As for me, I don’t long for the trappings of vanity and vitality wrapped in tight jeans and stilettos; there are no augmentations or Botox parties in my future, not that there’s anything wrong with those options!  I don’t crave so much my youth as I crave the idea that I had the world by the tail – that I could dare to dream, that it was all still ahead of me. That was all before the searing reality of bills to pay and 401 K’s to build and lunches to pack.  What I’m craving again is the idea of possibilities. 

So I’ve decided this.  I’m not going to have a midlife crisis.  I’m going to embrace a midlife opportunity instead.  I’ve still gotta keep my eye on giving my own kids roots and wings; I still have those pesky bills to pay and a marriage to nurture, but I must carve out some time to pursue a dream or two.  Take a chance, from right here in cushy suburbia.

Some pretty amazing people have led the way in proving there is still plenty of opportunity at midlife.  Erma Bombeck never wrote a word until she turned 35.  Helen Mirran didn’t get her big break until she turned 40.   Colonel Sanders’ restaurants never took flight until he was 65.  Bill Wilson founded Alcoholics Anonymous at 40.  Mother Theresa opened a school in the slums when she was 38.  They were busy beforehand, but they hadn’t arrived yet at truly fulfilling their purpose and potential.  And they must have found some inspiration to keep reaching, even in the midst of the maturity and peace that beckons us to slow down, get off the train, soak in life a little.

I’m up fore the challenge.  I’m GOING to free one of the books trapped in my head.  I’m GOING to spend more time expressing my love for connecting with people.  I’m GOING to also, in the midst of my revitalized passion for missed opportunities, stop and just reside in my messy, real-time life.

But enough about me.  What about you?  What's still left for you to finish?  Oh - and if you've got the answers to figuring men out - go ahead and leave it in the comment section!