Sunday, October 31, 2010

The "Mess" of Midlife

I read something recently that novelist David Mitchell wrote regarding the midlife crisis:

"The heart gets more interesting than structure. I’ve got kids, I’ve got a wife, we’re stuck with each other for a while. And suddenly there’s an understanding that this is what life is — it’s actually the mess, it’s the mud, it’s the tangle. It’s not the clean, hygienic… fireworks. It’s the little invisible novels that get written between two people every day of their lives. It’s the subtle power shifts. It’s the love, it’s the less-noble sentiments that make every single day either good or bad or not so good or wonderful or moving through all these things at the speed of West Cork weather. This is interesting stuff. Why go out there in search of extraterrestrial life when it’s already here?"

I love that last line - "Why go out there... when it's already here?" One of the ways to go astray at midlife is in exactly this manner... to go in search out there for something that is already here. Mr. Mitchell suggests that life is found right in the midst of the mess, mud, and tangle. I could not agree more. In my practice I often hear variations on the theme "I am a mess", or "this is a mess". The implication is that things should be more "in order" or that uncomfortable feelings should not be so out of hand. But really, if we are going to be alive at all, there is no good alternative to simply recognizing the place and value of our mess, regardless of the particular form it may take. If we could just accept that this is the way life unfolds we could at least relax and not expect that we are going to get anywhere of true value on a narrow, straight,orderly, and mess free path. That will also help protect us from going searching for something out there when it may be that what we are really searching for is right under our noses - already here - in the mess of our actual experience.

© Copyright David Aspenson

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