When this question first wormed into my subconscious either I didn’t notice it or I refused to recognize it. The second time, I rudely shoved it away and then I ignored it. The third time, I turned my back on it and put a little more effort into the omelet I was making in the blind hope that I would drown it out with my egg beating. I have used countless strategies to stop the tape from looping over and over in my head. I’ve not yet escaped the question, I’m just trying to stay out front while it nips at my heels.
Is this the midlife crisis that people talk about? Am I having one?
I always thought that that was for unfulfilled, unexpressed, uninspired sad people, who sit themselves down in a moment of reckoning and wonder “what went wrong?” and “what has it all been for?” Not me! I’m one of the most positive, happy, grateful, and – in the things that matter most to me- successful people I know. So what’s with this question carouselling in my brain?
No one talks about what happens after you get to the top of your mountain? We talk about setting goals that match our vision and our values, achieving them with grit and courage but we don’t talk about what’s needed for what follows.
The day after.
And the day after that.
And the year after that.
Walking around the top of my mountain gets boring, it’s the moment the mountain climber is made redundant.
I’ll admit I have a sneaky suspicion that in becoming what I was striving for, I may have unwittingly written the climax to my story. I have achieved and …well, how do you escape the possibility that that was, quite possibly, all there is?
(Honestly, that is such a freaky thought that even writing about it is causing me stress. Yes I know…“relax and enjoy it” and I do, but even as I do, I wonder what’s next? I mean, there is something next, right?)
Ugh, slight heart flutter.
It is hard to Re-Imagine ourselves.
We have a lot staked in the roles that we’ve played, the identity, the milestones. Getting to “that place” meant that I understood myself and “the rules of the game” and played it with a certain mastery. Leaving this mountain, seeking something new, means leaving behind the markers and measuring sticks that I had used to guide and evaluate my hard-earned progress.
I notice the youngsters climbing their career mountains, I climbed it once. I see the empty nest, I feathered it once. I look at my hipster outfits and I think -oh honey, maybe once upon a time, but not any longer. It’s not that I can’t do those things, or even want them back, it’s that I have DONE them. What if I am never that vibrant again? That in love again, that successful, that sure in my step, that visionary, that free, that upwardly-mobile, that skinny again?
My left eye has started a tick.
It is the day after the party. It was sublime, but what now? Those things, that person, that moment are no longer here. I will never be all that again. Ok, fine. I can get behind that, and I know there is an uncharted tomorrow to lean into, a new destination, a new climb. Time to leave this mountain.
What if what I become is less glorious than what I was?
Now I have the hiccoughs. This is freaking me out.
Full disclosure – I just went to buy new shoes, the nipping at my heals has turned into full-fledged biting.
It is in this hang space, that I reach for the scaffolding that will prop up my eventual next right answer. I feel a calm and a certainty, and a little fire in my belly. Now we’ve stepped into territory that I feel confident about. Is it possible to become less glorious?
Eyes locked onto the horizon I remember with the conviction of breath itself, what each of us was born knowing- there is no end to being glorious. Being glorious is intrinsic to each of us, not a function of our performance. We were born that way.
Look at any nursery – each little bundle a full expression of glory. On a path that is honouring of me, my own sense of glory will not diminish.
All I need to do to stop the nipping is to take the reins and boldly ask the question.
Who do I want to be now? And go for it.
It seems that the secret to finding the next right answer, will be to really examine what my real, deep and present wants are right now, then line up new measures and markers alongside them. To move from judging better to honouring different. To knowing that I can have many Re-Imagined Selves – each one a delightful expression of who I needed to be, and what I needed to achieve in that moment. Each one equally fulfilled and successful for the achievements will reflect what was meaningful to her. Different, but equally glorious. A mountain range of me.
I loved being that woman, she was the best of who I was then. And the best of who I can be now has yet to be imagined.
Given the glory that I have been, who do I dare to be now? This is not over, this part, perhaps the best part, has just begun.