Monday, August 23, 2010

Dealing With Life Changes

This morning I dropped all four kids at school and I am alone now with my own thoughts.  The house is quiet and stillness surrounds me.  As I ponder my life, as I often do, the thing that keeps coming to my mind right at the moment is Change.  As a family, we have moved to a new chapter in our lives.  With our youngest going off to middle school this year, changes are bound to occur.  No more class parties, Field Days, student assemblies, field trips and the like to fill our (read: my) lives with.
My kids are no longer babies; they are tweens and teens now and naturally, as their lives change and evolve, so does my own life.  I have to embrace this evolution.  I have to go with the flow of nature instead of pressing against it.  There is no way to stop the hands of time from clicking away; I have to move right along with it or risk becoming broken by the effort of pushing back against the forward movement of life.

I look at this season in the lives of my children as a chance to make some positive changes within my own life.  It is time to take the remainder of my life seriously.  Life looks differently when we are 45 than it does when we are 25 or even 30.  It just does.  So much life is lived in between those years, and there really is no substitute for the experience.  Oh, sure, there are smart, wise and savvy 25-year-old people, don’t get me wrong.  It is not as if we ‘older folk’ have cornered the market on wisdom and intelligence.  I suggest nothing of the sort.  It is only that our perspectives change, as we grow older; we view the world from a different vantage point.  Things have a way of looking dissimilar to the way they looked when we started out on a hike up a mountain than they do when we reach the mid-point, and different still as we near the top.  The same can be said of life as well; it just looks different depending on where you're standing.  In another 20 years, I will undoubtedly see things differently than I do now.  Simply put, it’s just how nature, and life, is.

And, so, now that I am 45, and can see what has come before, and also have a better, if still not clear, view of the mountain crest of my life, I feel as if I need to get serious about living it.  Living my life, that is, not my life as it pertains to my kids or anyone else, really, but my life as it pertains to me alone.  Not that I can live in a vacuum, I will always be considerate of others - of how my life influences those in my orbit.  I never want to become so self-absorbed that I lose the context of my life, which, in my opinion, is to make and nurture relationships.  I just need to figure out the difference between losing myself in a relationship and losing myself to a relationship.

As subtle as that difference sounds, it makes a world of difference in how fulfilling our relationships are.  On the one hand, losing ourselves in our relationship means we have a form of symbiosis with the people around us.  We learn, grow and change together as a sort of mutual transformation and affirmation.  By contrast, if we lose ourselves to a relationship, we give up too much of ourselves in order to have a relationship with someone.  We are likely to become confused as to who we truly are, as the line between our own needs and the need to please another becomes blurred and we struggle to find our bearings as we move into the next phase of life.  This last scenario is not good for anyone involved.

I find myself today at this place; evaluating.  Evaluating, how to achieve a balance, between what I personally want to achieve and being who the people around me need for me to be.  This balance will require me setting up some boundaries, but hopefully, when all is said and done, everyone will get their needs met in one way or another and both my family (and close friends) and I will emerge in a place fulfillment and accomplishment.