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Writing Pieces

Living in the middle.

By March 21, 2022March 30th, 20227 Comments

My friend just sold his company and retired.

I asked how he was doing.

He replied, “Ok.  I’m living in the middle.”

I nodded.  I understood.

Or thought I did.

I think living in the middle means staying within the lines.   You’ve completed the rudimentary work of the beginning.  Haven’t approached the complexity of the end.  You’re in the middle.

But the middle, if you’re not careful, can last a lifetime.

It is said that life can be divided into thirds.  The first third dealing with childhood and family.  The second is that part of your life as professional, spouse, parent.  You’re busy.

The final third is tough.  Most of us try to avoid it and simply continue the second third.  We keep doing a version of the same job.  Become a hands-on grandparent. Live on the golf course.

But, it is said, to be truly fulfilled, the final third can’t be a redo. It needs to be about you now.   A time of pushing the boundaries.  New experiences. New travels. New occupations. New friends.  A new understanding of life.  Finding out who you really are.

My friend recognized that he hadn’t gotten there.  He was still in the middle of life.

Immersed in the safety of sameness.  Seeing the same friends.  Traveling to the same kind of places.  Eating the same breakfast.

Following a known routine.

If one were a sailor, you’d be in irons.  Floating.  Not moving ahead.

But, isn’t life an assignment of discovery?   To be truly lived?  All the way through.

At least this is what I tell myself.

Because pursuits now are not easy. I’m older.  I’m tired.  I’m no longer working, so I have to push myself and be my own motivator. I’m no longer a hands-on parent, so time is my own.  I am my own scheduler.

I am trying to write a book.  I make pronouncements about my intent.  Put it at the top of my to do list. WRITE Mary WRITE!

I am trying to redecorate my house.  To energize myself by creating a new environment.  For ideas, I cut pictures out of the few magazines still in print.  And tack them on my board.

I sign up for online classes in subjects I know little about.

I drive to the store on different streets so it’s not always the same.

I sign up for places I want to travel to.  Find people I want to get to know.

Attempt to truly live in the moment.  Be present.

But have I really moved out of the middle?  Or am I dawdling. Running in place.  Merely pretending to move ahead.

Is it all busywork…or am I actualizing something?

Maybe I’m fooling myself.

I hope not.  I want to feel like I’m constantly changing my life. Learning at each step.  So, at the end, I can feel I’ve lived a series of unique experiences all toggled together.

Wherever I am in this spectrum, I do know that the wash of a new discovery…the high of accomplishing a new goal …or the coming together with a new friend…feeds me.  Puts a little zip in my step.  Brings me back to the vitality I felt when life was coming at me at a speed I hardly registered.

Maybe that’s the difference.

In the middle, life initially came at me like an onslaught. I reacted.

Now I have to create my own wind.  My own velocity. My own motivation.

And that’s not an easy thing.
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Living in the middle.

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Emily Roos says:

    So right on. I am trying to write a book, taking online classes and doing exactly what you are and yet feel as if I am floundering. Thank you for capturing these feelings so perfectly and showing me I’m not alone in this.

  • Michelle Weinger says:

    Mary, what a thought provoking message. I know I do not want to live in the middle. I am all over the place but trying to find a sense of calm and acceptance in who I am at this age. Life gives us bumps and challenges us to step up to the plate of being present in our own lives. I feel full of love and gratitude with all that I have been. Blessed with. There are days I try to find my relevance. I do not want to be a bystander. I am a full participant in my life. I feel like I need to be of service or others outside of my family. I try to think about that daily. I am still a student of life and humble to know I still have stuff to learn. I love this exercise of becoming aware enough to see my part and how i can show up to be a better michelle or mimi. Xoxo love and miss u. Xo michelle

  • I was about to write my comment—where is the WONDER!? And scrolled up and there was that word! I came to similar conclusions about my daily life experience recently, Mary. I tap into the sense of wonder, of trust, of fresh moments when with our two year old grandson. All my time with children is rich with freedom, fascination, and creativity. Collaborative discovery. I trust them. Grown ups? They seem less permeable, more brittle, not often conducive to the energy of joy. Is it my own bias separating me? Or just that finding true friends is very rare? You —-and a handful of other remarkable women— I trust and find harmonic resonance with—can’t wait to read your WONDER post now!

  • anne says:

    “But, isn’t life an assignment of discovery?”
    This is one of the most profound things you could possibly write.
    Yes, but what about that fatigue? the requirement to shop and then cook.
    to find all your energy taken up by the quotidian, the fatigue of not acting on ones ideas?
    I love what you have written. The middle scares me to no end.
    I’ve never heard it described this way.
    Thank you for these thoughts, putting them down for us to ponder.
    Miss you!

  • Chris Turner says:

    Oh my goodness! You’re right. I’m in the middle. I need to get out and move on. Thank you!

  • bob says:

    wow Mary! so spot on…what most of us are experiencing in some form and so beautifully written….thanks for making it all make sense! xoxox, bob

  • Jackie Flanigan says:

    wow! this line is so powerful!!
    Want to blow up and hang on refrigerator to look at everyday!!!

    “Now I have to create my own wind. My own velocity. My own motivation.”

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