This is a confusing post to write but I'm going to 'have a go' as they say in England.
I'm having a sort of mid-life crisis I think. Looking on the bright side, since that's an occurrence more typical of someone in their 40's, perhaps I'll take it as a sign that I've taken longer than most to grow up. Perhaps there's an equal chance I'll grow old more slowly too. Since we who are prone to emotionalism and immaturity hang on to very little stress, it's only natural we avoid stress-related illness, right? It would be nice to think there's a positive that will come out of the current mild state of confusion I'm experiencing.
I am in crisis and have been, but only for a few days. I noticed a couple of days ago that I was moving slowly, both in my thoughts and in my physical being, lost in a fog of tension and near-despair. Then last night - waking in the middle of the night - I managed to give myself a label, which gave way to a huge sense of relief. A break-thru! The second half of last night I'm sure I slept better. Today the tension and inertia are half what they were yesterday. For me, answering the 'why' is have way to a solution.
I'm sure I'm better today for having put a label for 'it' - the muddled mind, the huge sense of oppression, the pressure of claustrophobia without being in a small physical space at all. Mid life crisis. Suddenly, I'm a part of the human race again, experiencing life just the way so many others have experienced it.
What are the symptoms of my mid life crisis?
I was feeling - am feeling - like I'm sitting alone in a dark room and I want to get out but I've got nowhere to go. I have a sense that my brain has reached capacity, yet I have many more ideas to cram inside with nowhere to file them. And as for the filing, I think that's a part of what put me in this compressed 'state' in the first place... Far too many projects, responsibilities, concepts to explore, each distracting me from the others to the point of inertia. And I'm realizing, I've spent twenty years of my life in the Arts with relatively little income to show for it. I've learned a ton. In fact, I've believed all along that life is about learning (I started out my professional career as a teacher) but now, having learned, I'd like to have something to show for it outside of a million manuscript ideas, several having been penned and at various stages of draft form and a few published items.
My life is like that... a draft of what is to come. I've always lived my life like that. A planner, I've always anticipated what needed to be done to make tomorrow's load lighter. But each day has a tomorrow so the load has never seemed to get lighter.
Now, at my relative mid life, I'm thinking, "Well, what's left to explore?"
I'm wondering, shouldn't I begin to reap rather than to keep on sowing? The answer is, I don't know. But I am tired of working very hard. In fact, this particular workaholic is just plain tired.
Of course the thing about any crisis is, everything is blown out of proportion. The mind plays tricks... though usually it's laughing alone. So I'm wondering - what tricks am I a victim to, and what truths are finally getting across to me?
Well, I'm going in circles... It's time to list some blessings, in order to tell my mind I have reason to be thankful. This is to draw me toward regaining a healthy perspective:
I have a marriage that's lasted twenty years
I have a healthy eight year old son
I have a gorgeous (inside and out) step daughter with whom I get along
I have family and friends far flung across the globe
I've lived on three continents and have visited two others
I'm sure of where I'm going after this life (though to say it may annoy some of you)
What can top this list of things to be grateful for? Everyone has their 'list' and I'm grateful for mine. But the trouble is, for almost the first time in my life, I'm scared. Really scared. I'm scared I've missed something I should have done, or should be doing, though I don't know what it is. If I knew, I'd think I'd do it. But I don't. So I'm stuck - inert - in my dark room, sitting because I don't know the direction to travel if I do stand up.
I've always been a bit of a control freak. At this point in my life, I've got no agenda and no control. And that scares me. Anybody else feel like that? Oh I've matured so I can be calm on the outside, but there's such a belly ache of stirring on the inside, that I want to explode before I implode.
Except I've not got the energy to let myself burst. Instead, I tell myself I've got to keep hanging on..... to... to... to order! And maybe then, maybe then I'll hitch a ride to somewhere that isn't such hard work. Maybe.... I'll be carried away to a land where there's rest and quiet and limited stimulation, a land where I can create something that will be enjoyed by others without having to work so hard to polish it because, in the polishing, all the joy gets rubbed away in the process. Maybe there I can find peace.
Did you know that striving for perfection and for peace don't mix? - they clash. Perfection and peace are like two roads that cross, once. I know I've spent most of my life traveling on Perfection Road but I'm realizing that it's been a long and sometimes grueling path. Perhaps now is the time turn off.
I'd like to find Peace Road, but I'm not sure how to find it or, if I get to that one crossroad, which turn am I to take? I hope I haven't already reached that crossroad and ignored it. And if I have yet to come to it, how will I recognize it when I arrive?... there are a lot of other crossroads. How will I recognize the peace crossroad? And isn't it only by chance I might find it? From where I am now, how do I even know which path to take from here? And if I do get there, and recognize it, and take the correct turn, will I be glad once I've done it or will I regret it? Will I then tell myself I took the easy option? Will I feel slothful and wish I could get back on the busy road I'm already on?
Are these simply vain imaginings of a 54 year old woman? Or are they insights into what it is to come as I enter a new stage in life?
The real trouble is of course, that there are just too many roads to travel, and everyone is trying to get on the right road that will lead them to their ultimate fulfillment. And I, in my current (and probably very temporary) crisis am wondering which road I last took and where I have ended up? The labyrinth of choice has put me in a complete muddle and I'm stuck, not knowing which way, or whether-or-not to go.
I categorically say I'm still sane. But it's hard to convey a crisis yet still write comprehensively. I've shown the underbelly of my mind now, and when I press "publish" what if life will never be the same again...? But perhaps that's what a crisis is all about: prompting the mind to lead us into a new realm, as a means to allay the boredom and mundane of middle age.
I plan to move forward with open hands, unaware of what is to come, and unwilling to yield to fear.
From me to you, until next week....
|Open Hands by Sarah Tun|