Friday, May 10, 2013

Mutterings from the Cesspool of Reality

I find I don't mind middle age so much. I like the freedom that comes with children growing older. I like that we middle folks find it easier to toss aside the facade than we used to, that we seem to have grown more comfortable with the definition we have evolved for ourselves. I feel strong, involved (when I want to be), aware of connections in life around me in a way that I could not have been as a younger woman.

What gives me less joy is the fact that somehow in these middle years we give in to reality. We mature, we apply our experience to our vision of life. We work through our relationships and share our epiphanies with our friends who also struggle with making sense of their own lives. The challenges of raising children and growing a marriage hit us broadside in these middle years, more often than not, and sometimes we reel from the blow. Like most folks, I find a measure of comfort in realizing that my marriage is actually better than most, that the struggles we occasionally face as a family barely hit the Trials and Tribuations charts.

And yet, as I talk with friends and family, as I read blogs and even celebrity interviews, it seems that in our wisdom and maturity we give up on our dreams. Most kids fall way short of the brilliance promised in the proverbial Christmas letter. All marriages struggle. Gwyneth Paltrow reflected the collective middle-age marital wisdom in an interview recently. In that interview, she reported that her father said once that he and his wife have stayed together all these years because they never both wanted to get divorced at the same time. The reality is that most couples fight at least occasionally. The reality is that most professionals fail to find deep satisfaction in their careers. The reality is that few people reach the dreams that propelled them forward in their 20s.

Well, you know what? Reality stinks. The fact is that my dreams DID propel me forward. Reality carries nothing even akin to the motivating power of dreams. In fact, comforting as it may be in a low moment to realize that my failure to reach that far away star simply means I join the rest of humanity on the ground, I happen to like the stars. The view from the lofty heights (or even the view on the way up to the lofty heights I may never reach) awes and inspires me way more than the view from the stable rocks and well-worn dusty paths of reality.

So thank you very much for the wisdom and the camaraderie here on the ground. I appreciate the clarity, and I see the logic. Truly I do. But until I hit another low point, I think I'm going to go back to assuming that the universe has something grand in store if I can only fly high enough.


  1. I KNOW there are wonderful bits still ahead in my life. I can sense it. Neither you nor I are the settling type.