Monday, November 16, 2015

Day 16: You look like the sort of angel I'd get. Sort of a fallen angel. What happened to your wings?

Does anyone make it to their mid-fifties without having a few doubts about what the heck they've been doing for the past fifty years? Maybe, but apparently not me. I've even written about this before, but apparently I'm not over it yet.

I had dreams of grandeur when I was in my 20s. I was going to be a great author and write that elusive Great American Novel, and teach at some small college where my students would adore me and hang on my every word.

But then I went to grad school--the first step in the plan, back in the 80s, fresh out of undergrad--and I didn't like it. At all. And every time I tried to write fiction, I realized I didn't like that either. And then I got married and moved to the outer reaches for a great adventure, and it turned out to be middle class America, just like everybody else, just like I was so sure I would never be.

And to my surprise, it turned out to not be so bad, to be just like everybody else. We've managed to have a few adventures along the way. I loved grad school the second time around, even though the first year it felt like jumping off a cliff every single damn day I drove down there. (hmmm. it's occurring to me belatedly that maybe that's why I enjoyed it.)

But I've realized over the past few months that I never adjusted my dreams from long ago to my reality now. I have this vague feeling of disappointment that I didn't get there, to that old dream, even though I know now I couldn't have done it. I write terrible fiction. I would have been a terrible teacher of young adults back when I was little more than a young adult myself. I'm not sure I'd be any better at it now.

I thought I would have done more by now. I know how absurd that sounds. Maybe shouldn't be telling you this, because it makes me sound like a spoiled rotten diva. But it's true--I'm disappointed that I haven't done more, accomplished more, been more interesting.

I think the problem isn't my lack of accomplishment, the problem is my inability to be content with the things I've done. Nothing out of the ordinary, but remarkable just because life is remarkable. I've had the privilege of living with three terrific human beings, we've been on great trips and lived in a spectacularly beautiful place, we have great friends and I've been able to support Doug in a career that has had a major positive influence on hundreds of lives.

So why am I still dissatisfied? Why am I still looking back at that other road, the one I didn't take? the road I didn't take because I didn't want to, because I decided not to. It makes no sense, and it makes me angry at myself. I guess it's just a typical midlife crisis. (yup, me being average again.) But I'm still having trouble letting it go.

Bah. I'll be better tomorrow. I'm always a bit depressed when we get back from a trip.

I promise this will be the only crying-in-my-coffee post out of the 30.


KarenB said...

Just because it's typical doesn't mean it's not valid. I had a lot of this last year, and I do mean A LOT. Like a shit ton. I think I finally got to a point that realized that it's not the big things that make a life worthwhile; it's all the little things. I just needed to start looking at some different little things because the ones I had are moving on.

To look at others' lives, we see the big things - the major events, the accomplishments, etc. but when you look at a life from the inside, it's all those moments that make it up - the nights rocking a sick child, the laughter at a family dinner, the walk in the woods, the morning at the beach, the hat I just knitted, the pot I just threw and now need to glaze, the snuggle from the dog.

I'm going to go drink my coffee now and hope that this made sense.

BarbN said...

beautifully said, Karen. That helps. I think I know that, but I forget in my black moments. Which, by the way, are way less black than they were a few months ago when I was truly depressed, as opposed to feeling 'a bit depressed' which I said in this post but meant only colloquially. I'm not awake enough yet to words that better, if it doesn't make sense (your comment, by the way, made perfect sense). Sam has a line in his college app essay about how "appreciating the ordinary makes it extraordinary"-- I learn not only from my pets, but from my kids.

KarenB said...

Oh, tell Sam that's really good.

I'm thinking I need to be really selective in my social media for a few days as some of the crap on facebook and twitter is making me want to scream. More than usual, that is.