So, I seem to be having this feeling, ever since…oh, my mid-forties, that I am “missing out” on something. That I need to be doing something “different”, something “new”, even though I have no earthly clue what I may be missing out on, or what that new and different thing is.
Compounding this issue is the feeling that I may not be missing out on anything. That I might, in fact, only be wasting my time in pursuit of these new and different things at the expense of all the great stuff I have before me now (a great family, a good, flexible job, a fledgling writing career, just to name a few).
Then it hits me this morning: This must be what that thing everyone (okay, mostly men) talk about as being a “mid-life crisis”. And suddenly this makes perfect sense to me.
No, I don’t care to go out and run up our credit cards or blow our savings on some hot Italian sports car, or loud, American motorcycle. No, I don’t feel the need to sow my wild oats with some sweet young thing from the coffee shop down the street. But I can see, especially at the (supposedly) midpoint of my life, just how easy it is to look back on the first half and wonder if I’ve done all that the younger me had dreams of accomplishing.
The answer, of course, is a hearty, no.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disappointed. Not in the least. Well, not entirely. I’m just being realistic. Honestly, I can’t even remember half of the “dreams” I may have had in my twenties, at the tail end of my college career, about to be unleashed into the wild jungles of an unsuspecting world. In fact, once out into this mysterious place called “the real world”, most of the stuff I delved into I failed at! Miserably!! Relationships. Jobs. Life in general.
That’s not a sob story; that’s just the way it was. And actually, looking back on it now, I view it not so much as failing, but as finding a whole bunch of stuff I didn’t want to do, didn’t want to be, didn’t want to dream. It was clarifying. Therapeutic.
Well, that may be stretching it a bit, but the one thing I did get right was finding the love of my life. And she helped me find my way to peace, and to contentment, and, ultimately, to God. You know…so there’s that.
Reading back through the first half of this post you’d hardly think I had found anything resembling peace and contentment though. But I think there’s a difference between contentment and fulfillment. There’s a difference between peace and rest. Like Paul, I have “learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11), but I doubt even Paul was content in every second of every day in every place. There’s the living at peace in the way things are, and there’s the little niggling in the back of your mind at the way thinks might be…if only…
Still, I don’t want to spend too much time living in “If Only” Land, thank you very much. I don’t think dwelling there does anything more than rob me of the joy found by living in the moment: The sight of my wife coming in all aglow from a morning run; the feel of my daughter’s first hug in the morning; the laughter of my son over some joke between he and his friends; the taste of red wine during an orange sunset; and lately, the sound of the TV turning off when the political rhetoric becomes too much.
Do I have everything I need? Ultimately, yes, because there is huge, gaping difference between “need” and “want”. I may have a lot of “wants”, and probably always will, but for today, I have everything I need–even in mid life–and, for some reason, I needed to remind myself of that today.
But for now, there’s going to be an awesome sunset tonight, so I’m off to get a good bottle of Pinot. Talk to y’all soon.