mid-dle adjective, noun, verb
1. equally distant from the extremes or outer limits, central.
2. intermediate or intervening.
3. medium or average.
“How old are you again?” my therapist asked me to remind her.
“Hmmm.” That was her answer. And she smiled.
For weeks we’d been talking about the ins and the outs of my last year or so and together we were making progress. Sigh. That’s always good. Progress.
We’d talked about career stuff for me, family stuff, relationship issues and the things that have been weighing me down. I would say things like
I just don’t feel like myself.
I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing.
I don’t know if I’ve done what I have done well.
She offered up something to me. “It sounds like you may have had a mid-life crisis.”
What. WHA. WHAA?!
Right. I’m not even close to forty (at least that’s what I like to tell myself). I haven’t gone out to buy a red corvette or signed up for liposuction.
“You think?” I asked her.
“Perhaps.” She answered.
And then we began to talk and it all began to make sense. I’m too old for a lot of stuff but too young to be old. I’m beginning to feel my mortality, thinking about the short future and wonder if I’ve made a dent. I’m wondering who this 30-something woman is and I’m questioning my own purpose.
The funk I’ve been in may be related to the fact that I’m realizing that I’ve lived over half of my productive life and feel like I don’t have a lot to show for it.
There have been beautiful glimpses of what life is supposed to really be over the last couple of years:
Holding the country of Peru in my heart.
Watching my daughter bond with a horse.
Late nights by an outdoor fire.
A community of writers on South Carolina sand.
Then several nights ago after dinner my husband said to me, “What AM I doing, Sarah?”
And we talked. What ARE we doing?
We aren’t doing anything bad or wrong and we are desperately trying to live a good story and raise our children well. But what ARE we doing?
Is our life too safe?
Should we be doing more?
Should we be doing less?
Where do we go from here?
What are we made to do?
The Markleys have crashed smack dab, head-first, up against mid-life.
But that isn’t the end of the story.
We can talk about the past and rehash the last few years if we really want to. We can mourn the loss of our house, feel the hurt and grief of the different communities that have wounded us, we can make second guesses on certain choices, but when all is said and done, we can’t change any of that. We can only move forward.
What do our next steps look like? Probably a lot like they have up until now. Our road might look a lot like the same road that we’ve been on because it’s full of days at the office and carpools and dance classes. It’s still full of emails and text messages and blog posts.
But I’m convinced that understanding the crisis is half the battle to making it something that you can use for progress. And knowing that the past can’t be changed is another part of the process.
Middle life is the life lived between our youth and our old age and between our energy and our rest. Middle life is the present years, the productive years, and now I believe, the beautiful years.
Whether you are in middle life like me or further along or further behind, let’s all commit to moving forward, being intentional about today, and finding ways to change tomorrow rather than worry about yesterday.
Where are you? Are you in middle-life, mid-life or something else? What are you learning about moving forward?