It’s All About The Plot

“Become major…Live like a hero.  That’s what the classics teach us.  Be a main character.  Otherwise what is life for?” — J.M. Coetzee

I’ve been thinking a lot about transitions lately.  My friends who are encountering detours and re-routes that they hadn’t anticipated.  Bumps that feel like moguls on one of the Olympic ski runs.  The kinds of change that can leave your posture skewed and your jaw clenched to the point of pain.  Jo told me that she thought transitions were easier when we were younger.  Perhaps.  Perhaps we just weren’t aware of what part of our story we were in the middle of – innocence is a wonderful thing.  But when you get a bit older, when the time comes that you realize that this is in fact the story line in which you are the focal character, perspective changes a bit.  We spend so much of our life planning our next chapters – even when they don’t turn out the way we thought they would.

As a child, I remember feeling that I just couldn’t wait for life to start – I couldn’t wait to be able to ride with the experienced riders; couldn’t wait to be double digits.  As a newly-minted teen, I couldn’t wait until I could wear Yardley’s cake eyeliner.  Then I couldn’t wait until I was legal.  Anticipation in my twenties – to be a mom, be seen as an adult (and be forgiven for transgressions that were a result of not knowing what I was doing as an adult), have my own home.  The thirties brought confirmation that though I no longer had the excuse of being a novice grown-up, I had fertile years to dig into this life I was creating without boundaries or barriers.  Perhaps in my forties it began to wear a little thin, but not so much so that my mind was reluctant to keep moving ahead, anticipating next steps with energy and spirit.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that looking forward no longer held the same thrill.  And despite the gratitude (which accompanies most things for me), there lingers questions about legacy and lasting impressions, an awareness that looking forward diminishes the present and quite frankly, too much future-thinking just makes me anxious.  I can write a chapter, but I’m not prepared for the story to end.

And perhaps that is why these transitions get so damn tricky.  Our emotional muscles aren’t as supple; we have seen enough to hesitate – able now to determine the degree of difficulty associated with our next move.

There is a certain grace in such awareness though.  To be able to be engaged with life and observe it simultaneously.  Moving thoughtfully enough that you don’t miss a cardinal on a snow filled branch or the sound the wind makes right before it blows through your hair.  Arriving at a point where you know what matters more often than not, and staying that course.  Transitions may not get easier as we get older, the choices may change in scope and size, but we are each, still the author.  And I for one, think my story is damn good.

68 thoughts on “It’s All About The Plot

      • I didn’t read all the comments before I wrote mine. How did I assume that I’d be several chapters worthy and Andy, so lovingly and unassumingly, only took a piece? So, rewrite; I, for one, am blessed to be a mini-piece. Love you both and love how you love each other. Happy Valentine’s Day, Kids!

  1. Oh honey, what a lovely story you are writing, and how indescribably happy am I to be reading along with you. You are wise and kind and insightful and you walk that line between living each moment and appreciating it as well as anyone I know.

    You are my touchstone, and I know I am not alone on this.

    Thank you for sharing this story with me…I am forever grateful, and the better for it….

    “To be able to look back upon one’s life in satisfaction is to live twice.” –Kahlil Gibran

    Xoxox, l

    • I love that quote from Gibran!! And I would suggest that we are touchstones for each other honey. Where one knows things with certainty. To return to with comfort and love and relief. I think I’ve looked back fondly, but there’s no doubt I look forward with a different level of anxiety than I did before. xoxox, m

  2. Beautifully written, and so loved sharing that moment’s warm smile with you as you read Andy’s comment, for I’m sure it was there, as was mine. This piece resonates bunches with me Mim…and I appreciate my story that much more knowing you are part of it, and knowing too, that I’m not the only one wanting to pull back the reigns a bit before the next transition passes me. Better yet, maybe it’s time to call shotgun and jump up there from the back seat, snuggle in beside the driver, and do a little navigating. 🙂

    • Hi WW..yes, I smiled at Andy’s comment and told him that he’s making my friends think he is just the bomb (he’s pretty awesome, no doubt, but really – sucking up in public? Really? 😉 ). Our stories are enriched by each other’s presence, our travels and the roads that we have covered together. Long may we ride WW, long may we ride…SK

  3. I see what you’re saying, but for every wave of panic that I won’t have enough time, I also get these weird flashes of confidence and peace, that my mind has never been stronger, and that I’ll either figure things out, get it done, or neither, and I’ll still be on top of the world. Because I’m alive, and the pain of mortality and all its foibles won’t ever, I hope, diminish the joy in that. XOXO.

    • Me too Lynne – me too! These moments of total calm when I feel more powerful, informed and prepared than ever before. For what? Who the heck knows, but I have times when I am completely confident that I’ll have time to figure it out – or not. I’m here and I love my life and in that moment there is no comparable joy. xoxo

  4. I LOVE this song and even moreso love and admire your way with words. You express things that the rest of us can’t articulate, with language as elegant and forthright as any I’ve ever read. Keep writing your next chapter-the rest of us are hanging on every word. The best is yet to come my friend! XOXOXO

  5. Love this eloquent post. So damn true. I was so fearless in my younger years. I never looked at the possible down-side to choices, large or small. I am thinking I am not nearly as fearless now but then again looking at 2013 I think I may be wrong. XO K.

    Sent from my iPad

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    • Are you kidding bunny??? look at all you did in 2013!! Selling houses, moving to another state, caring for George through another health scare (and in a new city), retiring and not stopping long enough to realize that you no longer have that albatross around your neck, moving your mom…do I need to go on sweets? xo, m

    • And your post reminds me of a Florida Scott-Maxwell quote:

      Age is a desert of time—hours, days, weeks, years perhaps—with little to do. So one has ample time to face everything one has had, been, done; gather them all in: the things that came from outside, and those from inside. We have time at last to make them truly ours.

      …You need only claim the events of your life to make yourself yours: When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality. When at last age has assembled you together, will it not be easy to let it all go, lived, balanced, over?

      Florida Scott-Maxwell, Measure of My Days

  6. sounds like living out loud to me 😀 Lovely balance of living for the now, appreciating and learning from the past, and eagerly anticipating the future.

    • Appreciating the now most definitely Liz, learning from the past – I sure as hell hope so…anticipating the future? Yes, when I don’t feel fear..which happens sometimes too.

  7. I read this earlier today, and loved it, felt it and needed to sit and be with it. I just read it again, and honestly, it’s like sitting in your kitchen with you. It’s hard for me to find words that show that I am sitting across from you nodding and listening. I can recall what you describe, always wanting what came next, thinking the next part of the story would somehow be better. 31, not 30, seemed like the golden age and now that seems so very long ago. I think, like, you I have begun to stop looking ahead and try my very best to walk at a pace where I don’t miss the cardinal on the branch, a beautiful beautiful metaphor. Life is so full of plot twists, our lives are page-turners! love this. and you. xoox

    • Thank you BonBon – I think I wrote this as I would speak it – in fact, I had a conversation like this with Jo while driving to Reagan Nat’l. I think our conversations are all subsets of this theme – the delta between what we were sure it would be and what it actually was; and now, doing less prognosticating and more being in the moment. It’s certainly calmer, but also a bit more bittersweet. Love you..xo

  8. Mimi, I sit in my home reading your post as yet another snowstorm, a nor’ester this time, blows almost a foot of snow onto our already whitened streets. It does seem our transitions are related to our life-stage. We slow down and see more, we consider where to put our time as it becomes more precious, we are more careful and more mindful. I’m excited and frightened about having less time ahead of me than behind me. So I pull myself into the present and listen to Joni Mitchell songs, which you so graciously provided. A delight!.

    • Thank you Wendy – we are covered in a foot of snow as well, with more falling. I think many of us can relate to the ambivalence of aging, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the musical interlude!

  9. Mimi – you hit the nail on the head for me. I am exactly at this point in my life, the only thing new is this realization of a different attitude toward my future transitions. They don’t quite have the same feel as just a few years ago. There is an underlying sorrow about it that I am trying to shrug off and I hope I am able to do so. It may just be a matter of adjusting to change, the same way we adjust to every other change. Eventually we realize that it is okay and we will be all right, but in a different way. Thanks for sharing what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it. xo Fran

    • Oh Fran – thank you for the affirmation, for confirming that we are all on this path together in so many ways. I think this time in our life is bittersweet, and not that easy to dismiss. How to limit the ‘bitter’ and embrace the ‘sweet’ – that’s the purpose perhaps. xo, m

  10. I was attending a 60th birthday celebration three days ago and my 80 year old Uncle made a speech about life with its ups & downs and how the looking forward to getting up each day, looking forward to two and three days ahead, and planning and embarking on new longer-term projects, keeps him feeling young (and he Is a young active 80-year-old!). So Mimi, even though I hear what you are saying about how the looking ahead does not have the same thrill as when we were younger, it still is a thrill to look forward, and I feel that it is a vital component of enjoying the here and now.

    By the way, the 60th birthday celebration was mine.

    • Happy Birthday Elizabeth!! I’m just a few short months behind you. And I love that message from your uncle. It makes sense – despite my desire not to rush time any faster than it seems to already pass. The fine balance of appreciating the present and still looking forward to that which tomorrow holds – a calibration I admittedly don’t get quite right all the time. I hope you had a fantastic celebration!

      • Yes I did thanks, and in fact it continues …..
        I agree that balance is hard to tune into and I so often get it wrong…..and then the past creeps in to interfere with that balance and I am trying to tame that.
        I look forward to reading about your crossing over to this new decade when it comes.

  11. I feel sometimes like I have scattered thoughts, I don’t always follow through and I know I have missed some very valuable and special messages I could have found right here. I appreciate that you are sharing some doubts, I am feeling like I “lost” you for awhile, this is my circular path back to you! I love the older version of Joni Mitchell’s more gravelly voiced, “Both Sides Now.” Have you heard this? I like her fresh take when she was young, but her much older and wiser voice, it brings me to tears… Lovely post, thank you! I am going to nominate you for an ABC Award… Hope you don’t mind since I am rediscovering you, I may as well bring some folks along… Smiles, Robin

    • Thank you for nominating me – though I don’t know what the ABC award is, and because I am terrible at following the instructions that usually come with them, I can’t say I am the best person for this award. But I appreciate it more than you know. The only thing I appreciate more is that you circled back this way and have graced me with such wonderful comments and thoughts. And though I enjoyed the Judy Collins version of ‘Both Sides Now’, I too prefer Joni MItchell’s more current interpretation – a life lived and fully vetted resonates in her voice. So happy you’re here Robin

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