I am at a kind of new crossroads lately. And I like it. I’m approaching 50 years old. I’m also approaching an empty nest, which I will celebrate as it will mean I’ve lived long enough to complete my greatest and most rewarding goal to date, raising my kids to adulthood.
I don’t take tomorrow or a future for granted. Cancer and an initial terminal diagnosis changed my outlook on almost everything in my life drastically. I’ve been living one day at a time for about 6 years now. I haven’t made many commitments to the future in the past several years. I’ve been timid about approaching tomorrow for a long while.
But I found myself a few nights ago enjoying planning my life beyond right now. I started to dream a bit, plan a bit for the future, construct goals. I know the future can change at any given moment, but I decided to make plans anyway. I even started thinking about maybe going to grad school.
My best friend, who seems to always be on my same developmental path, recently bought me a book as a gift (we are close enough that a used Amazon book delivered to my home still counts as a gift). The book was “Inventing the Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthood”…”what matters, what works, what’s next”. It is about women between age 40 and 50 who are getting a second wind, who are redefining their lives and goals and ambitions. Who are learning to let their kids pursue their own lives and goals and who are giving up the need to always be involved and needed by children who now want independence. Women who are beginning a new journey.
I see lots of them now- going back to school to pursue career changes, giving up long-time careers and positions of status to do what they find more fulfilling, moving to other parts of the country. A middle-aged accomplished biochemist I know recently quit her job, backpacked the Appalachian Trail for 6 months and then created her own gourmet cooking business. I read of another woman and her husband my age who left careers to start a bed and breakfast in Alaska. Another cancer patient I know left her career in management to provide support services for cancer patients…..she has had recurrences and has been in treatment for the past 7 years and is living with and in spite of cancer.
I want to combine this time of my life with my new hard-earned cancer perspectives to do something more, to do something meaningful, to do something new.
I know I may not be guaranteed the time to reach all of my new goals, but
I am going to begin my new journey anyway.
Because really, the journey IS the destination.