an anchor & a vibe: a mid-life check-in
Updated: Aug 13, 2021
I've not posted since May. I don't have a good excuse other than life happened:
interacting with the busy lives of my three beloved daughters: one 20 years old and returning for college to finish out at the local campus; one 18 years old getting ready to head to college, and one 16 years old finding her way through her teens
COVID affecting all of us with isolation, restricted choices, and political outrage
getting absorbed into projects at work that relentlessly requires new learning...
I'm ending the summer after a couple of wonderful family vacations with an ensuing sense of feeling ungrounded and lost. I started this website and blog to help anchor me. My soul and mind need some outlet...something creative. I don't randomly stop and play the piano for hours as I used to as a young adult. I'm not much of an artistic painter, crafter, or sculptor. I work, play, escape and write. I fell into this monastic daily rhythm through years of seminary study.
I know myself, including the parts I don't particularly like. I have an intense and developed sense of interiority. My mind moves all the time unless I'm zoned or sleeping. It seeks understanding, organizes thoughts and experiences, analyzes my feelings and judgments - all with data from memories, a sense of truth I've constructed, and what's going on around me. My spirituality and worldview are theological (God-centered) because both are shaped by a sense of existential pilgrimage in this world - which often makes little sense to me.
So, I write.
At 47 years old, I think my current season of life is similar to others my age. I'm evaluating the first half of my life. I think about what I've spent 30 years working toward. I assess what I've accomplished or not accomplished, and where I'm headed. I'm also deeply aware of the commitments I've made in the first half of my life - to be a partner/companion to Margo, to be a dad, my commitment to God, and my sense of call. I feel, again, what it was like to see the birth of my girls, almost losing Margo to TTP in 2007, moments in our journey through adoption and trauma, my mistakes as a parent, and the feelings of loss serving institutions going through epic decline and change.
My feelings can oscillate intensely between full and empty. Both feelings can be overwhelming.
I wonder with humility at the love I have for life, my family, the earth, and simple things like fire, trees, sharing, prayer, and listening. In the same moment, I can see all my own goals, objectives, and graspings at personal fulfillment like sand through my fingers. Like sand, they blow away without much substance with the perspective of time.
Watching my grandparents' lives pass away (my grandma Vivian Grice lived to 102!) - their bodies decline and lives liquidated in days leaving only memories - shows me clearly how small we are and how perverse our culture's sense of economic "value" really is. In those moments between fullness and emptiness, my sense of personal security, optimism, and anticipation as a young adult evaporate. I'm left with the present moment I have a sense of gratitude for now and a more humble sense of what will be, Just writing this down helps order my feelings and thoughts. For anyone who reads this, thanks for journeying with me. An upshot in all this is that I'm rediscovering (again) my love of music. I've always loved good music. I listen intently to classic rock, alternative genres, jazz, rap, even Mannheim Steamroller. In college, I fell in love with classical (especially Bach and Brahms), Renaissance choral music, and bluegrass and funk.
One of my favorite genres continues to be instrumental, especially modern electronic ambient-style grooves. It reminds me of my same love for House music out of Chicago in the '80s and '90s. Both are a kind of mood music to be both heard and listened to at the same time depending on the moment or mood. I've recently discovered Emancipator out of Portland. His piece "Baralku" is a great sample.