Monday, April 25, 2011

Mindful Monday: Crisis Versus Quest

A few weeks ago I began to feel this unsettling restlessness in my soul. I'm prone to bouts of restlessness, (if you're familiar with the Enneagram, I'm a Four--the Kings and Queens of restless energy). But this was restlessness with a little despair and fury thrown in for good measure. And a little of these: missing my youth, wondering what's next, looking back at my life and contemplating if I've spent my time here in a worthwhile way, and thinking about how I can ensure that in the second half of my life I use my time wisely.

I'll be forty in September.

Yep, the good ole', cliched Midlife Crisis.

So I did some research and here's what I found out: We may think that once we finish puberty we are technically finished with all the stages of growth life has to offer us, but we aren't. Most people, men and women, experience a shift in conscious between 40 and 50. And this shift basically boils down to the realization that you aren't going to live forever, and you'd better get your ass in gear. Now this means different things for different people. Changes in job, relationships, old habits and ways of being are common. Some people use their midlife crisis as an impetus for positive change in their life, while others deny it entirely or use the energy to really mess up their lives.

The Chinese ideogram for crisis contains two characters. One represents "opportunity", the other "danger". A dangerous opportunity. Yes.

Once I began thinking of it as a quest versus a crisis, I felt a little better. But the intense energy of it, that restless despair and fury forced some things to the surface for me. Things I needed to say and do to get myself to the next place I need to be.

I also started reading Martha Beck's Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live. So I'm sitting with the unknowns and trying to get excited about the next half, forgiving myself the mistakes I've made along the way, and thanking my gravity afflicted body for carrying me this far.

And then sometimes I just want to be 24, lying naked in the sun, a full Saturday stretching out before me, a night out with friends; live music and easy laughter, falling in love with Erik all the while.

And while I can't say I live every moment believing my best moments are yet to come, the future is mine for the taking.

A dangerous opportunity if I ever saw one.


rebekah said...

this is wonderful. i feel restless, but a bit put out and frustrated that i don't have time to dwell and stay out late at a concert and read the nyt at a coffee shop for hours or road trip to new orleans or wandering around with my camera to satisfy the restlessness. i have been thinking of life before kids, and feeling somewhat guilty and wondering... and i am so grateful for your writing about this!

Lauren said...

I'm there too (but didn't blog it nearly as well as you have here).

InventingLiz said...

I read this post in the morning and burst into tears...I am definitely in the midst of this shift and have been for a few years now - I'll be 44 this summer. I thought I was making positive changes in my life because of it, but lately I've been feeling like maybe I am in the middle of completely messing up my life.

I'm re-reading your post now and for some reason it makes me feel more hopeful than it did this morning. Dangerous opportunity...I like it...

The Curious Holts said...

What a wonderful and thoughtful post. I turned 48 this year and and the ride has been wild. I feel so incredibly centered and yet ... there is a longing. I do love aging and I love my life. I only hope to be open and ready with a full heart for whatever is next!