I have not posted in a while. I couldn’t.
I lost my endeavor. I didn’t feel like it.
Besieged is how I have felt. Priorities I carefully chose suddenly began to compete for my energy. The necessities of participating in life (and moments of trying to figure it out what was happening) made even the creative possibilities I set in motion impossible.
I was deprived of clarity.
It happens all of us. Life is like that.
So I began days not with a to-do list but no list at all.
The space that allowed was not my undoing but my deep privilege. It’s been 7 months.
Ambushed by Desire
What hit me was an intense longing.
I wasn’t unhappy. In fact, life was good.
I live in an appealing place, in a house that sits beautifully on the water’s edge, with a man I love and respect who loves me back more. I bike, have friends, travel and cherish my relationship with my beautiful daughter and her family.
I had determined a path for my work in the future.
There was nothing not to like.
A simple invitation to a place I’d never been began my undoing.
It happened as I walked up a hill in a Mexican mountain town. This strong stir arrived with clear verbal intent. OMG, I want to live here.
I could have blamed the altitude.
“I want to shape my days in a different culture. I want to better know individuals I’m meeting. I like this walk on dusty cobblestones in this old town where I buy beautiful flowers in the market for not a lot of money, sit in the square and listen to bells, and be the recipient of the shoe shine man’s smile as he deciphers my Spanish.”
(I also like daily living with a maid and gardener – both in the realm of possibility if you live in Mexico.)
I’ve had extended stays of 3 months in Nicaragua, Chile/Argentina, and Ecuador. But this was different. This was about long run – say a couple of years. A semi-permanent or maybe permanent, this to that.
Returning home, I gaze online at real estate in San Miguel de Allende. I have never returned from anywhere and done this.
Where did my longing come from? I do not know. It simply arrived.
I could have archived it. I did not.
Longing is Invitation
General malaise, discontent, envy and depression are signs of uneasiness with life.
I didn’t have those so this longing – this heartfelt desire to live differently– felt out of place.
In the last third of my life, I’ve had false starts and fruitless detours. But I had re-ordered and restored myself to an equilibrium that for sure didn’t need stirred up with a grand scheme of packing up and moving.
The idea does not please either my husband or my daughter.
Perhaps, I thought daily, this yearning feeling will go away.
Longing has sharp edges. Longing beckons and stabs.
In longing we move from the known to something we want that is unknown, to somewhere we may know little about and to lovers with whom we’ve spent little time.
Longing transforms a life. Longing can begin with a small inkling or a tiny notion. Longing can clang so loudly it hurts.
We have to be determined to block out noise of an unfulfilled whim or instinct. Perhaps you are good at this. Many of us are.
A good way to keep everything in check is to map out a linear life for your last third of living then relish that safe feeling. I get that.
But life should not feel like you have already arrived.
You are 2/3rds Done
Perhaps, you think it’s crazy to harbor hopes and dreams in the last twenty years of life, let alone act on them.
I can’t honestly say I blame you. It complicates things and gets you all scaredy-cat.
Here’s what I know. I felt more in the middle or late-middle of life than toward the end. If you think you are half-way done with life, you could be kidding yourself. I was.
But if you are late-50s you are more like 2/3’s done.
This realization will shorten your orbit. (All this is without the disturbing speculation that your health and your death is out of your control.)
Get a good list of your unfulfilled desires up against a realistic timeline of your life that’s relatively small at this point and I guarantee you’ll be far less intimidated about changing up life.
I visited San Miguel four more times to look beneath my infatuation. Was I being ambushed by hype?
I took friends with me and watched as they never felt anything near my euphoria. Some liked it well enough. Others readily packed and won’t return.
Two people who clearly love the lives they created in this place provide solace.
One moved to San Miguel from Atlanta over ten years ago and vibrancy radiates through the ends of her short red hair. The other just sold a home in San Miguel and said, “It’s the worst mistake I’ve ever made.”
That. I Want That.
Eventually I realize that intense longing has bored a hole into my good life more than once.
My longing moments always begin with Oh my god because they upend me:
- OMG, I want get married. (1965 and again in 1981)
- OMG, I’d like to bike the Pyrenees (ongoing)
- OMG, I want to have a baby. (1969)
- OMG, I have to go here. (inspired by pictures to a place I’d never heard of- Oaxaca, Mexico – 1988)
- OMG, I’ve got to leave this job and do something else. (early 90s)
- OMG, I want to get in that sailboat and see how far I can sail it. (In my case, learn to sail it. – 2010)
Action ensued on all of these except for that biking trip to the Pyrenees which is a stretch for my capabilities but I’m not dismissing it. Modified, it could happen.
These longings turn out to be markers of change that made my life bigger and better.
But when you are a mature adult – again let’s say fifty-five or so – it’s a great deal easier to keep living the same life suffused with an understanding that you had your chances and this is what you got.
So you live the life you have.
Nothing wrong with that but it’s not how I’m going to do it.
The longing doesn’t feel out of place anymore. It feels grand.
Thanks to all of you who electronically or in person let me know that you missed my posts.
I am in thoughtful pursuit of getting my desires into reality. I continue to hold to fast to encouraging each of you to live deeply by sharing knowledge, experience, and wisdom from a firm foundation.
Expect shorter posts and a finished book.
I hope you will travel along with me and join in the conversation. I appreciate each one of you.