Mid-Life Options: Where Do We Go from Here?
Life is wide open and full of options. And I don’t really know where to go from here. I don’t recall ever having so many options open for me at 18 or 25 or 30.
Back then, I felt–and was often told–that I have so terribly many alternatives for my future but that I would narrow my path through my field of study…and my first job…and my subsequent jobs…and then with marriage and family and the PTA and certain expectations of fitting myself into the shoebox of societal norms. Back then, I saw a whirlwind of possibilities being funneled down to just one or two and being on a path that would be impossible to jump from, unless there was a bridge involved. The high kind with water and rocks below.
Life has not proved that way. Not for me, at least. I think of the ending of the second Terminator movie, where Sarah Connor suddenly does not know the future. I know my future is full of possibilities and that the future is very fluid. Yes, indeed: no fate except what we make.
I confessed on a walk with my daughter while visiting her college campus that I have so many options opening up for the future that I really am a little baffled by the direction I might choose. This, after all my life knowing the next logical step in my life phases. That narrow path is opening onto a wide vista and I’m about to run barefoot into the grass and sunshine, tumbling and spinning and dancing. With my younger daughter leaving home in another year, who knows what I’ll do?
Maybe I’ll follow one of these sweet young sergeants to England for a year or maybe backpack through Europe for a summer. Maybe I’ll take my buddy Shawn’s advice and teach acquisition courses for the Defense Acquisition University and spend a few years on the road. Maybe I’ll switch to the Army or NASA and see what I can learn that’s new in my current career field or maybe I’ll just write books about dominance and submission from the psychological viewpoint or maybe I’ll teach English at a University somewhere. Maybe I’ll produce audio books or go back into life coaching full-time. Maybe I’ll go back to playing pipe organ in a local church or open a writer’s retreat or go back to teaching safety workshops so farm workers don’t lose fingers. Maybe I’ll spend a year in Costa Rica with my laptap and a good Internet connection. So many choices, and all of them quite possible.
My older daughter reminded me then, on our pleasant tour of the neighborhood, that my menu of futures is unusual for most people. For most, she suggested, they become stuck on one path and don’t see any options at all. Once their path is set, they’re committed to it…eternally. No more choices. Once an accountant, always an accountant. Once set in a house in a certain city, always there. There is a mindset at mid-life that it is too late to make such drastic changes, even if such changes would present an exciting, happy future. We too often get caught up in the inertia of where we’ve worked so hard to get to and forget that we have another half of our lives to explore and enjoy new things if we’re not absolutely thrilled with where we are now.
So where do I go from here? Doesn’t really matter as long as I keep moving forward and enjoying myself.