My Shrinking World at Midlife

  • Luke Perry.
  • Mona from “Who’s the Boss?” (Katherine Helmond).
  • Albert Finney.
  • George Bush.
  • My younger cousin Fredrika.
  • A co-worker at Whirlpool.

My friend Jen posted on Twitter:

When I started Midlife Moments, this blog was about my past. It was a bold act to attempt to chronicle what I had learned in my life from a midlife perspective. Eventually I felt complete. My blog has become more of a place to process what is happening in the present using my knowledge from the past and my vision for my future. And, of course, sometimes I’m just having some fun.

As one by one my contemporaries die, my world shrinks. Even though the grim reaper may have claimed a celebrity I’ve never met or one that may have been gone from the public eye for many years, it was comforting to know they were still here. A glimpse of them at the Oscars could bring back memories from my childhood or make me smile thinking of a role they played. For people I know, a hole is left for whatever role they played in my life. We grieve, and life goes on.

A columnist for the New York Times wrote this piece about her own brush with death. I ignored it a couple of times because, honestly, I hate reading about death unless I’m in the right mood. My friend Jerry sent it to me this morning, and I finally opened it up. Her brush with death really woke her up to the reality that every day could be her last. She echoes Steve Jobs’ daily question to himself:

None of us knows what day will be our last. I check myself every now and again when I worry too much about retirement. I may not even make it to retirement, and then I would have spent all this precious time worrying about something that may never happen. This attitude helps me right-size my anxiety about the future. And every time another soul transitions to the other side I am reminded that it is no longer a remote possibility. Midlife is the gate to the garden where death is fully present.

We know we are going to die. Death is the one thing that has no exemption. The sight of this finish line can become an inspiration for better living. When I turned 50, I vowed to be more intentional with my time. This becomes more and more urgent to me. Sure I still waste time. But I choose to spend my time today focused on the living and that includes me. If today were my last, would I want to do what I’m doing?

If today were your last, are you spending it the way you’d like? What would you change if you answer this daily in the negative?

3 Comments on “My Shrinking World at Midlife

  1. It was in coming to grips with my own mortality when my parent died, exactly six months apart, that I was energized to make needed changes in my own life, primarily leaving a marriage that hadn’t worked in decades. I now think of my life — especially the remainder of my life — in stages. We joke about the three stages of retirement: go-go, slow-go, and no-go, but there is a lot of truth to this. By the time we get into our eighties, a short twenty years away, it’s too late for the grand adventures, in most cases. This is why we are currently selling/donating/storing everything and taking a couple of years to travel. We are in a ‘sweet spot’ in which we don’t have to work, don’t have children looking to us for daily support, and don’t have parents depending on us so now is the time!

    • I love your sense of adventure. It is inspiring. Thanks for being inspired and actually acting on it. I love you both and can’t wait to read about your travels and maybe join you.

      • Thanks, Sharon — we love you too and that would be awesome if you could join us somewhere!

Talk to me, please...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: