Living in the Middle
Reluctantly I have accepted that my life has a definite beginning and an end. These dates will be inscribed on official documents—birth certificate and death certificate. Cementing my place in history, these records will serve to verify my existence for generations to come.
Celebrations accompany these life bookends as various family members gather to pay tribute to the arrival of a new member or to mourn the departure of another. Food, friends, ceremonies and music chime in to accompany these memorable events.
“Birth and death; we all move between these two unknowns. ”(Bryant H. McGill)
We do our living in the middle. Often referred to as the “dash”, the space between the two dates, this is the unknown amount of time that we are given in which to experience life and all that it has to offer.
I was recently compiling a scrapbook for my son’s 30th birthday. As I was going through my albums, the number of special shared memories stood out. I audibly laughed at the out-of-style clothing in the pictures and wondered why someone did not tell me that my ’80’s perm was not the best hairdo for me. My eyes filled with tears when I saw photos of my son with his Dad, who only lived to experience 11 years with his youngest child. Color images on square, shiny papers acted like magic carpets, transporting me to the vast white sandy beach at the New Jersey Shore and off to the Magic Kingdom in Disney World where we were together one winter. Once dormant, the past experiences came alive in my head and my heart raced with excitement to keep up with their picturesque recall. Simple activities such as a family picnic or washing the car on the driveway were all important memories. They chronicled our life.
As the future days unfold and we pass through the upcoming weeks and year, it is possible to get lost in our comfortable routine and we can lose sight of the knowledge that each day is a one-time special gift. Fortunately birthdays and weddings add the exclamation marks to our lives and give us cause to pause and rejoice! Sometimes a quiet reflective moment puts in a much-needed comma in the narration and provides us with a moment to relax and exhale. And memorial services and funerals provide the solitude for self-reflection.
None of us knows when the shadow of the end of our journey will eventually creep in and extinguish the light of our life, but hopefully we have filled our given days as best as possible with assorted fun along with a tremendous amount of love and joy and plentiful acts of kindness.
I feel like I am truly living in the “middle” of my life right now, although the math may not coincide. I have clear, vivid memories of my past and I delight in my moments of reminiscence. Having experienced loss and disappointment, I am better able to focus on making my current days meaningful and I try to let my inner spirit, my “whispers” take charge. In addition, I am anticipating an exciting future with the upcoming marriage of my son and my continued years as a grandparent, my new role in life.
“Death, like birth, is a secret of Nature.” (Marcus Aurelius)
So in this New Year, try and spend a few more meaningful moments living in the middle. Take time to embrace those occasions that warrant exclamation marks and put in some extra commas in your busy lives in order to stop and reflect upon your journey. We do not know when that final date will be recorded, so let’s fill the middle with as many rich details as we can! Pay attention to the opportunities to stuff your life to the perimeter and remember, there is always room for more.
Happy New Year!