Sunday, August 2, 2015

Identity Crisis #314

So what's the Third Third anyway? My mother is 90. So at 62, I'm looking at things in thirds. First 30 years, second 30, and now: the Third Third. Looking at my life, I see a timeline of decisions debated and decisions made. They're like the points in my life where a life can branch off and generate a whole new parallel universe. The kind where I married that other person or took that other job or moved to that other country. I have crowded the world with parallel universes, but I like where I am so even the bumps got me here.

My thirds fall into groups, with themes. I call my first third Preparing for Adulthood. My second third, that's Parenting, and that includes both the preparation and the adaptation to no longer needing to be hands-on. (She's launched.) It's also, as my sister added, Professional Life.

So what now? What's the Third Third?

You can see my timeline, but first some history....

Back when I was in college, back when I was agonizing over what major to select, I was consumed with identity issues: "Was I a philosopher?" or "Was I a physicist?" "Was I an artist?" or "Was I a writer?" Life loomed in front of me, and it all hinged on that MAJOR DECISION.

The thing is, I'd thought I'd figured out this future bit. (I was a teenager.) I had decided (excruciatingly) where to go to college, where I would be a student. I had become THIS student in that place. I thought I was finished with deciding who I was, where I was, and how I would become. I had walked through those doors to my future, couldn't it just be lived now?

Yes, they were doors to the future, but also doors that slammed shut on alternative futures. My friend Helen pointed out that this was only Identity Crisis #14 (but who remembers the actual number). They kept cropping up!
In between, there were other decisions, other doors, too. They kept appearing, relentlessly. Some repeated. Some were more dramatic than others, but the philosopher in me won out and all of them were EXAMINED.

All those doors, all those parallel universes, this is my life:

Why is this Third Third such a big deal? 

  1.  It's colored by mortality. It's the Last Third. This one leads to decline. No matter how positive I might be, eventually my times in a half-marathon will get longer.

  2.  This one involves accepting that some options can't be picked any more. I can't be a farmer. Okay, I can, but it would take A LOT to make that happen. (Raising the big question: would I want that enough to make it happen?)

  3.  I'm really, really good at some things now, but I'm also sort of tired of them. Do I follow my expertise or my curiosity?

  4. How far do I go to follow curiosity? How much uprooting do I want to insert in my life? Do I want to move? Do I want to "start over" in something?

  5. What legacy do I leave behind? Do I want to cement that, alter it, or branch out?

  6. I don't have a passion. I'm not so in love with gardening that I deliriously welcome the idea of having the time to garden. I haven't waited my whole life to ... write a cookbook or visit all 50 states. I already crossed the country by visiting 25 waterparks....

  7. I need a theme, an over-arching meaning to this part of my life. I don't want to just add up the days, and I don't want to relax or play or travel without something larger illuminating those days.

  8. I am consumed with de-cluttering, but how much of my shit do I discard? I RECYCLED my journals! More on that, but de-cluttering involves deciding what part of your past you keep.

  9. How do I re-insert creativity into my life? For years now, I haven't been doing creative writing or art, both of which were necessary parts of my life. What gives?

  10. How much money do I need to make? Of course no one knows how much money they'll need, but there's also the bit about salary being life's report card, the measure of our worth. Women do seem to suffer from Bag Lady Fantasies, but this valuation thing still plays out with me.

  11. So how am I doing with this Third Third business?

    Maybe not floundering, exactly.

    When public radio in Alaska used to announce my commentaries, they identified me as "Barbara Brown, whose daily collisions with life leave her with great stories and a grateful heart." So I'm still colliding, I still have great stories, and maybe I can gain some clarity here (and force a little for #9).

1 comment:

  1. Welcome, to electons are us!

    But, most importantly, is Cloudy still with us?


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