In the middle of the road of my life I awoke in a dark wood, where the true way was wholly lost.
David Whyte has a great image in his audio set, Midlife and the Great Unknown. He describes the moment when you are at the end of a project or when you have settled your affairs. You finally tidy up the house, make a cup of coffee and sit down to enjoy the peace and achievement. Maybe you’ve been looking forward to reading your favourite book, turning up the music full volume, putting your feet up? I am here at last you might think to yourself. I have finally arrived. (I may not be remembering this fully accurately as it’s many years since I devoured this little gem of wisdom, but it went something like this.)
Anyway in that moment there is a feeling of deep relaxation, completion and a huge sigh of relief! As you put your feet up to sink into that precious moment of being, a knock comes to the door…….This to David is the essence of mid-life; just as we think we have it sussed, a new spanner is thrown into the works. All we can know for sure is that every stage, event, project, dream is transient and that an unscheduled knock at the door is always looming.
Some how this image soothed me in a period of wondering what I would do for the rest of my days. I was probably coming up to 50, and having that “who am I, what am I” mid life crisis. This unsettling feeling gripped me, but I had some illusion that it would pass as I got older.
Ha! Fat chance! Why? Because it keeps on happening! Just as I think I might have a handle on the Great Unknown, I find that everything has changed, I need to go in some new direction, and I am without a clue yet again.
My day job involves a flimsy year to year contract and has done all my life. I’ve never actually had one of those permanent and pensionable jobs. I’ve been privileged to work in the social sector where there is such scope for good work and relationships with good people. To continue to be paid to do it, most of the time, has been lucky for sure.
But it has never been secure and I have become used to the flotsam and jetsam flow of work, the tide coming in and going out. At this age I am wondering (yes again) if I might steal a moment or two to put the kettle on and put my feet up? I seem to be craving it. Yes I am still drawn towards that illusive state of peace and tranquility, a closing of the front door behind me…..
And although I know it won’t last, I wonder would it ever at least just begin?