My last (poem) post sparked some discussion with a couple of friends, and took the musing deeper. It seems that no matter what age we become, we never quite expect what it will mean to be that age. And sure there are friends and cliches to point the way, but... But. How is it that we can reach a point in life and still feel blindsided by what it means? Still assess it as a personal soul-search rather than a communal landmark?
I should be better prepared than many, having a husband that is significantly older, and close friends that range to age 80. "Should" must path the way to many a shoulda-coulda-woulda.
I should have titled the poem "What do I want to be when I grow up?" or "On being human." Who knew that many, most, or all of us desire a second act, a shake-up in the status quo at some point? I can tell you, it doesn't have to be a mid-life crisis.
Let's call it the mid-life chrysalis.
A chrysalis from which we hope to emerge purely ourselves with the wheat and chaff brushed off, the experiences learned and the satisfaction of the second act guaranteed.
I spoke of the busted forge, and as I've thought about it, my whole-hearted meaning was just that: authentic selfhood. No more trying to shape of myself something practical and easy to get along and be in the world. I don't have to will to be something I am not.
I used the math analogy because it is so concrete, to me. Putting aside esoteric mathematical concepts, it is an exact science.
I struggle with writing being an inexact science. There are so many variables, so many possibilities, so many qualities to being a good writer, being a successful writer... it seems simpler to not be a writer. (Why, oh why couldn't I choose accounting? :))
That poem was a heart cry, a banner uplifted for being exactly who we are.
And I am hearing from my friends that many of us are crying that cry and calling that call. Mostly inside, sometimes lamenting to others, but there it is.
I look at where I started, to figure out where I could have taken a different turn and delved into a career I would love.
That goes nowhere.
That road lies empty of family and children, as it was our choice to start our family right after college. Which leads me back to the beginning of this post: how can I be surprised to find myself exactly where we planned I would be? Lear Family Plan, circa 1996: family, then career.
Maybe it is as simple as saying: The time has come. (dum-dum-DUUMMMM...)
I am ready for the next act. I have soaked solely in this mother-calling for 12 years. I have raised my babies with care. I'm not going anywhere. I'm just going to find the resolve to move forward. To set aside some energy for chasing the dream. Once I figure out exactly what that dream is.
Am I a poet, to claim and charge forward?
Am I a memoir-writer?
Am I a memory-keeper?
Am I a bit of each?
Whatever I am, I am better at it because of friends. Friends who volley, talk, inspire and commune.
Friends who give me faces to envision and input to chew on as I muse on and around These Life Topics. Holla, ya'll.
A chrysalis is a tubular construction, and sometimes we have to travel around and around and around, re-treading and retracing that path inside until we burst free.
Fair warning, this ain't the last you've heard of this...