Another One of Those Life Stages
This has not been an easy past twelve months. At the beginning of summer last year, my father was hospitalized with leukemia. He went into remission in the fall but had a relapse in the winter. He was back in the hospital in March and while receiving chemotherapy, he got an infection and passed away on March 12. He was exactly 79 1/2. It’s interesting in how many ways the passing of a parent can affect you. I’ve always felt like a twenty-something at heart, and yet with one funeral, I became middle-aged. When you experience, for the first time, a person close to you, actually having a life that is finite, the passing of time becomes real. The idea, that you have all the time in the world to accomplish your dreams, is proven to be false. For those of us struggling with the fear of leaving an underwhelming legacy, all of a sudden facing the reality of time having an end can almost be paralyzing. Most goals and dreams can not be met over night. They take time to achieve. But now, what if there is not enough time? Are they worth still striving for or are you just being foolish to even try? It’s especially hard when you’re on your second set of goals. I had twenty years, starting from college, to build an impressive career. But now that career is over, so I have had to start form scratch to come up with my next goal, but time is no longer on my side. Or so it seems.
Luckily, sometimes inspiration comes from the most unlikely places. I happened to TiVo a movie staring Bruce Willis, called The Kid. It’s always good to have a mindless movie on hand to watch while working out if you’ve run through all the shows you usually see. I didn’t know what it was about, but anything with Bruce Willis in it will at least be mildly interesting enough to get me through an hour on the treadmill. It turns out that he’s 40 years old and meets a kid who is actually himself at the age of 8. The kid has come into his life to remind him of what his goals and dreams had been as a child, to help him realize why he may have taken a different path away from those goals, and to ultimately help get him back on track. At the end of the movie, he meets himself as a seventy-something-year-old man, with a dog and a family, flying his own plane. The 40 year-old “Bruce Willis” turns to the 8 year-old “Bruce Willis” and high-fives him. They had done it. So, he knew that even though he wasn’t where he needed to be right then and there at 40, that by 75, he had accomplished what he wanted to. So, maybe there is still time.
I may suddenly feel middle-aged now, but I need to remember that “middle” means that there can be an equal amount of time in your future as has already gone passed. And I did get a lot accomplished in my first 45 years, so why should I not think that my next 45 will be just as fulfilling. And maybe, now that my father has passed and I have been forced to become an adult, perhaps wisdom will come along with that responsibility. And that my new-found maturity will either help me to become even more dedicated to achieving my new set of goals or to perhaps find the serenity to let my legacy play out as it will.
And the beat goes on. La de da de de, La de da de da….