Every day I’m faced with some small — or sometimes not so small — reminder that midlife is upon me. Maybe I’m not exactly old, but I’m no longer young either. Assuming I live to my early or mid-80s, I’m halfway there. I still have plenty of time to do lots of things — travel the world, watch my children grow up and maybe become parents themselves (or not), learn new tricks, make a difference, maybe learn to sew finally. But the energy I have to do these things and the body in which to do them is different now than it was 15, 20 years ago, and I know it will only continue changing, no matter how much kale I vow to eat or sleep I strive to get. To think of it a different way: if a life cycle were a single day, with birth happening around 6 am and death around 10 or 11, I’m at high noon. The morning is gone, evening feels like a ways away, but if I want to have a productive and enjoyable afternoon, I better get going.
These realizations have me evaluating things – determining what’s most important to me and what I can let go of. It kind of feels like the opposite of a midlife crisis and more like a midlife…breakthrough. (That doesn’t mean it didn’t sting a little bit this morning when I was slathering sunscreen on the kids and Jackson asked, “Mom, why do you have so many tiny wrinkles all over?”)
Anyway, I have been evaluating things, thinking about the life I’m living, determining if I’m spending my time doing the things I want to be doing, or if there are other/better ways to do the things I think I have to do that I may not enjoy (or maybe it’s possible that I don’t have to do them after all?). And I’ve been thinking about where I am in life vs. where I thought I would be at this age when I was younger. I think my 25-year-old self would be pleased for the most part with how things have turned out for us so far. I think things have actually turned out better than I probably imagined they would, in large part because I’ve been very lucky in many ways and I’ve fostered relationships that have deeply enriched me, and in smaller part because I took risks that paid off. Mostly, I’ve just been lucky.
What about you? Are you living the life you imagined you’d be living when you were younger? If you’re in your 40s like I am, do you feel any sense of a midlife crisis or a midlife breakthrough, or do you feel any distinction at all between this decade and others?