On May 3 I turned 46 years old. Unless I live to be 92, my life is more than half over. Such a sobering thought prompts one to examine one’s life. For me, this turns into an inventory of my major accomplishments thus far:
- Four beautiful sons
- A 20 year, mostly happy, marriage
- Multiple college degrees
- A solid position in my current profession
- Dear and amazing friends
- Certified yoga instructor
- Certified Reiki Master
- Trips to the Bahamas, Ireland, London, Rome
- Pretty perennial gardens
As I review the list, I can’t help but ask: Is that all I’ve got so far?
I thought I would have accomplished more by now. Still on my bucket list is a summer in Europe, a beach house, writing and publishing a novel that people actually want to read. There’s the hot air balloon ride over Napa Valley, the business I’d start if I could just figure out what. And always the fantasy of being debt free, financially free, just plain, damn FREE. Permeating it all is a nagging feeling that I’m not quite living the life I’m supposed to, that there is something still missing.
My lamenting is quickly met by a harsh Inner Judge who admonishes: Quiturbitchin and be grateful for what you have.
I hate that judge sometimes. She just doesn’t get it. I am grateful for what I have, but according to Maslow I’m supposed to want to self-actualize. It’s the only way a human being can reach his or her full potential.
This must be how midlife crises begin, with an examination of The Road Not Taken, followed by an Inner Judge assault for daring to be so shallow as to want, dare I say it, MORE.
Inner Judge: There are people starving, desperate, oppressed, and imprisoned in this world and you’re whining about a beach house and self-actualizing and wanting MORE? Quiturbitchin!
Looking back, there were failures, of course. Poor choices made. Regrets. Most midlifers have them.
We are born, we live, we die. As many of us get closer to The End we realize that we’ve been living on auto-pilot, going through motions, doing what was expected of us by others rather than following our inner callings. Suddenly it seems so obvious that we should have done more of the things we wanted and less of what we didn’t. That we shouldn’t have been so afraid.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t be grateful for what we have or demean our accomplishments, however small and insignificant they may seem at times. Duties and obligations to family, friends, work, and the human beings some of us bring into this world are real and they matter. There is much to be said for finding joy in the simple things, with taking pleasure in the moment. A beautiful sunset, a family gathering, a baby’s smile, a grandmother’s reminiscing — all have deep meaning.
At the same time, there is nothing wrong, selfish or ungrateful in asking ourselves: Am I selling myself short? If so, why? And what am I going to do about it?