Here’s the fundamental shift that I have experienced in my own life, and I see time and again, in the lives of those whom I counsel and guide.
In the Morning of Life (prior to midlife) we are a version of our true, authentic Self.
We are not our big Self, but our little self, actually lots and lots of little selves. During the first half of life we are trying on all kinds of personas, roles and identities, attempting to see what fits.
We are like Goldilocks running around trying on other people’s perceptions, expectations and projections.
“Is this my profession?
“Is this my passion?”
“Is this my purpose?”
Some of us jump from one thing to the next. Others, however, hardly move at all. We stay put in the city of our birth, the religion of our upbringing, the values of our family – all of which can be beautiful and truly ours, if we choose it. However, often times, and particularly in the Morning of Life, we hardly choose it. We just accept it, adopt it and wear it because it’s what we do, it’s who we are, its the porridge on the table (but who in the hell likes porridge anyway!).
And then the bears come home, sometime around midlife, and they are pissed, huffing and puffing and blowing the doors off the hinges (I tend to mix up all those terrifying children’s bedtime stories). Either way, there comes a point where the bed no longer fits, the food no longer tastes right, and we realize the house we’ve been living in is someone else’s.
We are imposters. We are thieves. This is not our home. And we feel found out!
This was my experience sometime around 40 years old. I was going through the motions in a profession. I wasn’t sure how I got there or why I had chosen it. I felt like I was living someone else’s life, continually feeling like Goldilocks wandering around someone else’s home, trying to make it fit.
This is also the experience of so many people I guide around midlife and well into the Afternoon of Life. They have achieved, they have conquered, they have arrived. But arrived where? Who was it that chose this destination? Who was it that had been driving the bus in this direction for all those years? Most of all, who was the person staring back at them in the mirror in this “dream” house? It feels like someone else’s house, someone else’s life and someone else’s dream!
When we wake up and have such a midlife crisis, our initial reaction is often one of shame. We’re ashamed of our choices, ashamed of our reality, ashamed of having been asleep at the wheel of our life or the person we have become in the process. So, like Goldilocks, we bolt for the door. We react. We attempt to flee.
The problem with the midlife crisis isn’t the crisis, but the initial reaction to the crisis. It’s the running, the fleeing and the hiding that presents the real danger. The crisis, after all, is just an opening to questioning our life, to taking stock of our reality, and the possibility of awakening to new possibilities while we still have time.
However, we miss out on the opportunity of awakening the moment we head out the door. And the truth is there are no answers outside that door. Running away from our crisis just compounds the crisis. If you do run out that door, seeking a new relationship, a new profession, and new place to live, you’ll end up like that little, lazy piggy who built his house of straw, not stone (we’re now deep in mangling fairytales). Sooner or later it will eventually come crashing down.
Maybe you will end up getting a divorce, changing your profession or relocating to a mountaintop to escape from the world. However, if you want a house of stone, not straw, then you first must face your reality, take responsibility for your choices, and do the work of getting clear and building a life on a foundation of truth.
So here’s the truth – truth for Goldilocks, for me and for you. When we choose to stop running, stop reacting, and stop seeking who we are outside of ourselves, only then can we discover our Self. When we finally make our stand and look for our Self in the house we have built, and taking responsibility for what it is built out of, only then can we ever hope to create our dream home.
So choose to build a house of stone, not straw; a house built of Self not selves; a home which no big bad bears or wolves or midlife monsters whatever fairytale form they take, will ever be able to huff, and puff, and blow your house down, ever again!
Shalom. Salaam. Peace. Namaste