Do you have one?
Are you living one?
I did for a long time. This does not mean that my life was not self directed, and also twisted and turned around at certain points by fate, people, circumstances. But I see a lot of people living default lives...the kind of life you get when you are too busy paying attention to the wrong crap.
Why is living so scary?
Why do we see the work we need to do then shy away?
Why do we stay in marriages and partnerships that are not good for us, support our own growth and happiness?
Why do we just accept less than what our heart’s desire?
We all suffer from the what ifs...
What if I leave him and I never get anyone better?
What if I change jobs and I fail at what I really want to do?
What if I follow my heart but am broke?
What if I go after the woman I really want but she turns me down?
It is a powerful interrogatory!
But like everything in life, when turned around, becomes just as powerful but in another direction...
What if you do fall in love with someone who better gets you?
What if you don’t fail?
What if you stop valuing money over happiness?
What if she doesn’t turn you down?
What if all you have ever wanted comes true for you?
Realistically, we can’t all live in the world where all of our “what ifs” work out the way we want them to. But I am living proof that taking risks, jumping, hell, leaping off what feels like it is the Grand Canyon (but is really only a curb most of the time) works out far more often than it does not.
Middle age is a great equalizer. A great time to be alive, I mean really alive. All these mid-life crisises are really us just waking up to the fact that we lived these default lives for so long and now we are faced with a time crunch. There is not enough time left for us to really live the life we want. There is no more time to waste. That is a privilege of the young. Middle age this is the time to get fucking busy. Don’t worry, you will get to slow down again. But later, hopefully after you have been able to spend the time creating, curating the life that you really want, because you have worked hard to become the person that you want to be. Don't you want to spend your golden years living the life you want, rather than the default one you just accepted?
In order for that to happen, you have to change. You have to deal with your shit. You have to stop being so afraid to leap. Leap! Hurl yourself into the best years of your life, finally.
I would agree that youth is wasted on the young. But it doesn’t have to be. Because we middle agers can use all that wasted youth, to make changes now. To these not young, not old people we have become and ride out the rest of our days happy, joyous, living our best lives. We can. We do. But there is work involved.
Curation is the process...at least for me. Becoming super intentional about who I am. What I allow to take up space in my life. Cultivating a rich internal life with myself where I am not hiding from people, not afraid to be who I am, and letting those that think that I should be dating in my own age group, wearing my hair shorter and grayer, wearing more age appropriate clothes, letting those fuckers go!
This is it. This is the only life we are sure we will get. We are not sure when we will get sick. Not sure when we will die. Not sure when we will get all that our heart desires. And if you have a heart like mine, it clamors for a great many things. Except, the older I get, the less things it needs and values. Now it is really about my experiences.
Last night I took my kids out to dinner. We laughed, we ate. We watched my son do stupid shit that he later regretted. We walked the oceanfront. We walked the pier. We watched the surfers ride the waves and love their lives. We lived. Each moment, one right after another. We were present. We were not on our phones. We were there, living, talking, breathing, this one amazing life. We also did a little rummaging through a thrift store and had so much fun. Trying on clothing that challenged our self concept or reinforced it. Maybe pushing it a little bit, showing us who we were but also who we might be...if we dared, just a little.
I do not want the default life. And I have done my best to toss it aside every chance I get:
Move to DC and start my own law practice with no experience and no idea what the fuck I was doing.
Get bored with that and move to the middle of the desert and learn how to be alone and write.
Marry someone and raise a family.
Leave that marriage when it felt like a prison that I wanted to escape from.
Fall madly, deeply in love with a man that would pick the default life instead of the amazing one we could have had together.
Spend years healing my very destroyed heart (like seven years...but who is counting?)
Spend a lot of time allowing friendships that needed to die, to die a fitting death. And then also working on the ones that lift me up, support me. Have girlfriends that I can ride down PCH with singing at the top of our lungs feeling 16 again, and looking as close to 16 as a 52 year old women can get.
Work hard to build a business, then walk away from that business when it felt like it was killing me. Which also meant that I walked away from the money...all the fucking money.
Changed careers at 52 and began doing something new, something I feel passionate about, something that nourishes my soul.
Started a new business, because why the fuck not?
Sent my child away to people who could help him when all of my attempts failed repeatedly.
Welcomed him back home when it was time, even with all the fear...
Spent all the intervening time, while I was healing my heart, loving this other kid I have, and developing a deeper, loving relationship. Getting close enough to her that she tells me things. Like most of the things.
So now, there is no remnant of a default life. No, it is all being lived out fucking loud. Like really loud, and messy and complicated, but real. Really fucking real. And sometimes hard. Sometimes very painful. Sometimes, so damn good that I feel like my feet do not touch the earth.
This is it. This is my life. And I am grateful. Grateful for all the risks I took, grateful for the failures. For the laughter, and the pain. Grateful that I have never been contented with the default life, knowing, believing and trusting that the big pay off comes right after you take what life gives you and turn into something that is yours.
If you don’t feel like this is your life, call me. I can help. Really. If I can do it with all my dysfunction and craziness, anyone can.