There – it’s in black and white – a number that confirms middle-age, or does it? Can I defer until 50?
Right…maybe not. Of course I’ve posted previously about that middling, muddled feeling of a life have over (and maybe half to come, if I’m lucky) – I’ve been thinking (read obsessing about it for years).
Like many mid-life mad women, I’ve been delving deep into the marrow of what makes a life well-lived, wondering whether I have good bones in place, how ageing and sagging flesh will hang off those bones to take me forward into the future (especially with osteoporosis and things that shrink our bodies along with our minds and lives as we age).
Metaphysics, the meaning of life, purpose and passion, the approaching big M (aghh) – life’s large questions circulate and percolate. (And one other, stupid question – why can’t tampon manufacturers just dispense with the instructions? I would have thought that after that first period or so they would be superfluous!)
A male mid-life crisis comprised of newfound love for a motorbike or sports car, even an affair, sounds so much less messy.
I’m mired in a mid-life muddle and I have a 3 year old! Now that’s messy (especially with the horrormones and all).
And I have no real idea what I’m going to do with the rest of my life, even though I know I want it to make it count. I don’t feel nearly as mature and ‘together’ as I imagined I would be. I somehow feel the need to live those ‘stolen’ years of infertility over (differently of course) – where did they disappear to – how did I get here? It’s not that I’m not happy in the present (for the most part) – I just wonder how it caught up on me.
What’s more on my birthday eve last week I attended an important ‘think-tank’ on the future of Queensland from a science, technology, education and economy point of view (you know the big questions). There was a room full of very smart people, including former Australian of the Year and inventor of the cervical cancer vaccine, Professor Ian Fraser (I bumped into him at the coffee station). And me.
I’m sure there must have been a few government and business types like myself, but mostly I felt surrounded by scientists who might well find the answers to everything from a cure to cancer to smart energy and saving the planet from pollution. All I could offer was a sound general knowledge and big-picture view that I’ve honed since my days as a journalist.
I was able to regale my group with my musings on an imagined life as a 45 year old scientist in 2043 as per our visioning exercise (hey I have experience in being 45) – the kids would head off to school in solar-powered, self-propelled/sensor-driven individual pod cars, that would be programmed to take them there without risk of collision or harm, to be unlocked at school by a teacher with a passcode. Yey, no more school drop-offs/pick-ups – pretty revolutionary I reckon.
I also proposed an environmental economics view of our future world in 30 years (I have actually studied this) – where the prevailing measures of value and policy in society (and the economy) would be based on environmental and social good, rather than the eternal chase for the almighty dollar. Not so far-fetched I hope.
Suffice it to say I was feeling very contemplative as I headed home on the highway and pondered again the difference, however small, I might make with whatever time I have left. And then, because I had my birthday off work (incidentally thanks to Mr Yang for spoiling me with some lovely meals, including Dijon mustard and herb crusted lamb cutlets and creamy pumpkin risotto with fresh asparagus for dinner), and with the kids at school and kindy, I got to start reading a wonderful book ‘A Compassionate Life’ by Marc Ian Barasch (what’s more I managed to finish it on the weekend – miracles do happen).
It was filled with so much, well, compassion – goodness, hope and slightly Utopian inspiration for how I might live the rest of my life (I could start by not yelling at the kids).
I highly recommend it, along with this inspirational post by Adventures in Spiritual Life about life cut short but lived well (she with the Stage 4 rectal cancer and positive attitude to match).
And then for some reason (strange, slightly obsessed wordsmith that I am), I felt compelled to compile a list of ‘Co’, ‘Com’ and ‘Con’ words (there are so very many to choose from) – well the words naturally fall into two yin and yang-like lists that might map out different modus operandi for life.
Co, of course, is a prefix that generally indicates a coming together. These are the two lists I came up with. It all comes down to the Co words that you choose – a connected, compassionate life or one of competition and comparison.
Vs (or not)
- Collateral damage
I guess my choice is clear – I can contribute best by coming together with others, by serving others – connecting, communicating, commiserating, communing – living a (more) compassionate life. A little competition never hurt anyone, but I reckon too much of it is well and truly hurting our world.
So it’s time, I reckon, to address the imbalance – to at least restore some kind of equilibrium between competition and cooperation, to face each other with compassion instead of conflict. And at 45 I still have time, if I am lucky.
Love to know your thoughts and secrets on living a connected and compassionate life?
Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT. (Gotta love these connections)