MidLife

MidLife
"A degree of difference, persisted over time and distance, results in a lot of difference …"

By the middle of summer I start to catch on that this season ain't gonna quite turn out the way I'd envisioned it. This recognition should come as no real surprise because 'not turning out as expected' might simply be the nature of things as they've always been and therefore most probably always will be. I still plan ahead, anticipating some facility never before in evidence. I stop near the middle, taking stock of my progress to always find it wanting in some material way. I have even shown myself capable of chewing on myself for failing to achieve whatever it was I'd earlier convinced myself that I would have achieved by now. It all seems such a ridiculous swirl.

I'm not very goal-oriented. I do not now nor have I ever maintained a bucket list. I hold my aspirations rather loosely.
I have no idea what I want. When The Muse and I first met, she would ask me what I wanted then watch as I seemed to enter an interior hall of mirrors, most often not responding because I never knew. The only book I ever burned after reading was The Seven Habits by Steven Covey, a book which seemed to outline one really fucked up way to live. When The Insurance Company distributed the book to every employee and commenced to convening training sessions around its content, I knew only one thing for certain. I'd have to get out of there as quickly as I possibly could before they learned the truth about me. I could not imagine myself living the habitual life as outlined in that terrifying tome. They would eventually discover this about me and set about trying to peck me into compliance, which could kill the only me I ever knew as me.

I live more by synchronicity, by happy accident than by determined will. I'm not so disciplined that I could ever learn anything that didn't come more or less naturally for me. I'm more of a hunter-gatherer than a farmer. Covey outlined a way of living that seemed more like a living death to me, parceling out hours and days in pursuit of what any sentient person should have long-ago realized was unlikely to turn out that way, anyway. But I defy anyone raised in this culture to avoid the poisoning he seemed to so enthusiastically embrace. Few of us are farmers but we've all been trained in farmer ethics. The hunter-gatherers among us always faunched in that harness, especially around performance appraisal time. The performance appraisers always asked after progress toward a pre-determined end rather than about surprise changes of direction. They sought not to reward meaningful insight but to punish it as a clear divergence from plan. I can become my own harsh line judge when in the middle muddle of even something as natively delightful as a CluelessSummer.

My first mid-life crisis came at seventeen. They have continued more or less unabated since. Each one seemed very different but also terribly similar, sparked by some vestigial expectation-setting coming into judgement, like my recognition that this summer, like every summer before, ain't gonna turn out as expected. What now? I could, of course, set some fresh expectations, raise or lower the bar, then proceed filled with fresh bullshit objectives destined to ultimately disappoint any farmer's soul. I know now that it's not whether I win or lose or even how I play the game, but more about how I cope with the curious, contradictory outcomes resulting from the expectations I set for myself. I sense that I really should hold my expectations for myself more lightly. I also sense that my synchronicity-seeking soul might perish without its farmer counterpart setting solid boundaries.

My legacy seems to be one where, depending upon whether the line judges employ farmer or hunter-gather rules, I will have lived a complete failure of a life or a nearly complete success of one. I feel a pitch fork prodding me along every day and I also sense that I could not ever possibly know what delightful insight might next infect me. My great challenge, the soul of every one of my MidLife crises so far, has been in coping with this dichotomy. Simply burning a poisonous book didn't rid me of the poisonous perspective. Nobody ever really knows where any middle lies when it comes to lives, adventures, or plans. A degree of difference, persisted over time and distance, results in a lot of difference, a surprisingly large amount. I seem to live for that surprise.

PS: In the common vernacular, MidLife begins somewhere in the late-thirties and extends well into the seventies. Almost nobody ever admits to being elderly and most of us stiff-arm recognizing even when we enter mid-life, it being popular to extend youth or the illusion of youth well into ones eighties if one can get away with it. We don't seem to revere age, if we ever did. The aged annoy us like discovering Ash Wednesday circling the punch bowl at what we intended to be an infinitely extended party. I'm considering old age as a time when farmer and hunter-gatherer sit down to a supper neither could create without the other.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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