So, today is my 40th birthday. This is my time for a mid-life crisis, right? When I look back on this year, I feel I’ve already had one. A sneaky one. And it was enough, thank you.
What is a mid-life crisis? A time of reevaluation, reflection…revolution? People change their marriages, their wardrobes, their towns, their jobs…they remake their lives to reflect who they have become. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s a dramatic, splashy attempt to reclaim lost vitality, sometimes an adventure into something new. Sometimes, not even a crisis at all.
Not to say that one has to have a mid-life crisis. But, with the myriad options supposedly at our fingertips, the apparent ease of mobility, and the constant chatter about expressing our individuality, I’m surprised every American doesn’t have one…or many.
Those of you following my blog this year, you’ve heard stories of triumph (I learned to row in a straight line, cook while the boat is rocking, and process clams!), tales of woe and frustration (loneliness, mildew, spilling things in lockers!), and proclamations of joy (playing on beaches, sailing, feeling independent!).
But the greatest story and struggle of this year has been a private one, a struggle with regret. Regret for leaving a home I loved. Leaving our friends, our little house, our garden, our chickens, our washer and laundry line in a dry climate, thunderstorms and snow. With two little ones who were just beginning to find home. Finding “home” on the boat this year has been a struggle and I’m not entirely sure why. I like to nest. I’ve tried to make it homey. But it’s just not working.
I like sailing, I love the sense of freedom and adventure living off-grid (solar panels, anchoring out, wood stove) has inspired in all of us. The ways this life has brought out the explorer in each of our children.
I love being in a place, in a life, where I can walk almost everywhere. A place connected to it’s history, the sea, and growing things. A place where people smile at and talk to strangers. Community was what we were painfully missing in Denver.
But most of the things I miss about our life in a house, what created “home” for me were things like growing food, baking bread, caring for animals, a stable place where our children could watch things grow and change.
After the kids were born, I had such a hard time slowing down from my teaching/acting/stage managing schedule.
I felt that if I loosened my grip, my whole career would go flying out of my hands and be lost forever. I performed in a world-premier while I was pregnant with Rowan.
Grip loosening is difficult for me.
This adventure was simply a desired change at a time when the opportunity presented itself. But it was also a drastic letting go. Not a rejection of the life a had, but perhaps a way to force myself to re-set, to learn and grow past the patterns I had found myself carving deeper and deeper into my days.
That was not a conscious decision, mind you. That’s why I call it sneaky. I think part of me needed a drastic resetting. That part just didn’t tell the rest of me.
This has been a year of feeling off-balance most of the time (and not just because I’ve been living on a boat). This dramatic shift has manifested itself in wild arguments with Gene, days of feeling overwhelmed about such little things, and days of epiphany and an incredible feeling of connection to the universe.
We recently attended a Winter Solstice celebration with a marvelous bonfire.
The return of the sun, the lengthening of the days, the emerging from a time of inner reflection…all things I’m looking forward to.
So, here I am, regret or not and (boat life aside) I feel altered by this year. Altered by letting go and entering a new rhythm. I’m not together yet. I’m not settled or at peace with it all. I still have plenty of moments of crazy. But I am less regretful. This adventure has helped me grow and find so much. The potential for building a life, in the amazing community we’ve stumbled upon here in Port Townsend, is exciting. Growing roots here and having further adventures upon the sea.
Here’s to 40 more years of growth and evolution!