As I face 40 I am very aware of how ‘crisis’ could happen. I see the slippery mental and emotional slope that could lead to so much heartache.
After years of raising kids, work, taking care of a house and yard, solving problems, stress and worry, you realize the work of life has suffocated living life. All the dreams, all the ideas, and all the desires you put off until a better time have fallen prey to the bandits of urgent and necessary. You wake up to realize life has become at best…routine…and at worst…survival. You find yourself half-way through your life vacillating between panic and depression as to what it all means. The questions, the confusion, the restlessness, the frantic feelings of having failed at something even if you’re not sure what, are all enough to push you down the slope of this mid-life moment.
Mindful. I’m mindful about appreciating life. Mindful of how easy it is to take things for granted. Mindful to be thankful—even for small blessings—because the alternative is the darkness that comes with criticism and complaint. Mindful of relationships, investing in and intentionally making time to nurture friendships. When I pray with my kids before bed I thank God “for each moment of everyday that we are able to live and love and learn and grow together,”—so when we are no longer able to we will remember the blessing of the experience even as we miss it.
A long time ago I decided I didn’t want to have regrets about these most important things and I don’t. However, I guess you can’t make it to 40 without regretting something. Unexpectedly I recently discovered my biggest regret and it is entirely about something I missed being mindful of.
For a while this year I struggled with feeling like I was behind. I had the foreboding sense that I was left in the dust of a race where I couldn’t even see the other participants anymore. Overly dramatic I know, and yet…
If you had asked me prior to my senior year in college what I was going to be doing after college I would have told you ‘heading to grad school and into a job working 60 hour weeks because I was passionate about the work I would be doing.’ However, I ended up meeting Andy the summer before my senior year, and the girl whose classmates would have voted ‘most likely to get married last’ became the one to get there first. This, plus discovering in my senior year my major and career plans didn’t translate over to Michigan (where I would live) the same as they did in Indiana (where college was), left me on a completely different route than the one I had expected to take. Not a better or worse route, just an unexpected one.