In honor of this milestone, I've been having a little existential freak out. I've been mourning the loss of possibility that comes with aging; and since possibility amounts to hope, I think its worth mourning, at least in a controlled and limited fashion. In my younger days, I had a fabulous coping mechanism for when life was getting me down. I would just daydream about the future, when everything was amazing. It worked every time---I remember being able to FEEL my heart slowing down, and the ache in my chest releasing. It was like taking a sedative, only slightly less addictive.
Now these daydreams ranged from the fantastical (having a huge swimming pool IN MY HOUSE, marrying a member of NKOTB, writing the next "Sweet Valley High" series---as an autobiographical take on my teen years as the most beautiful and popular girl in school) to the mundane (living in paradise, having 3 kids, having a daughter). Regardless, they were a soothing balm to my battered and bruised soul through my awkward teens, lonely 20s, and the hell of infertility that came after.
I don't daydream anymore---I've tried---there just isn't anything big and GOOD* left that isn't already set. I've got my marriage, my career, my children. I won't have a daughter. I won't marry anyone famous. I probably won't live by the beach (my husband doesn't want to) or write teeny bop fiction (ummm. I don't want to). Swimming pools are expensive and having one INSIDE your house is just...stupid. If I think too hard about the future I realize that people I love may be gone, my children will be TEENAGE BOYS, my joints will be creakier & my hair grayer and oh my god this is terrifying STOP. Life, and circumstance, and common sense have taken all the FUN out of daydreaming.
I know full well that I can make changes, but they seem small in scope compared to the wide open field that was "the future". Every year going by leads to some narrowing of possibility. I see it with my children. When they were born, they could be ANYTHING. And now I'm seeing their strengths and weaknesses; of the infinite paths, some are closing off. There are still multitudes left---and the choice is theirs alone, of course---but it happens, that is life.
And when you realize there is nothing really enormous (and GOOD*) ahead, your mind falls into the quintessential "Is this all there is?" mid-life angst.Yes, I know there is a lot of good stuff in my life. There is a lot left for me to do and experience and I have ambitions and plans and hopes and dreams for how I'm going to fill the next several decades should the universe grant me them to fill. But that angst is sitting with me right now.
Months (years?) ago, Xykademiqz wrote a comment that pretty much summed up everything I didn't even know I was thinking and feeling. In fact, if there was a theme to this blog, this is it, including (most especially) the "shiiiiit":
The blahs in middle age come from no longer there being concrete, inspiring milestones in our future. It's saddening and disorienting, especially for very driven people. I spend a lot of time brooding "Is this all there is? What is the fuckin' point? We are all so insignificant and short-lived in the grand scheme of things... Shiiiiit (The Wire style, http://shiiiit.com/)." But then I try to find the time to better myself or for creative pursuits, or enjoying the creative works of others, or focusing on how cute my kids are, and then I feel better. For a little bit at least.Which is exactly why, after my family was complete, I've set my focus on self-improvement and seemingly flit from one personal goal to the next and back again. I'll never win Olympic goal, but I can train to shave a few seconds off my running speed, and be just that much fitter and stronger than I was before. I don't have the family I imagined, but I can be the best mother to my sons. I don't have a talent that can become my career, but I can try different things until I find something I'm good enough at to be a fulfilling hobby. I may never marry Leonardo DiCaprio but I can make my own marriage better. And if I can enjoy it all, along the way, I guess that is the fuckin' point. It has to be.
*because, lets face it, the older you get the more the chance of terrible things happening to you and yours increases. Circle of life.