A funny thing happened on the way to the printer this week. Debbie and I are preparing our book, Two Are Better: Mid-Life Newlyweds Bicycle Coast to Coast, for the presses. As I was working on this blog post, I looked up the definition of “mid-life”? Much to my surprise, “mid-life” did not appear in the dictionary. But “midlife” did! Even with many sets of eyes combing through our manuscript, we had a spelling error in the book’s title! Our editor assures us that we have sufficient grounds to use either spelling. This is yet another lesson I am learning. Writing is more art than science. Style matters, and when you’re the author, you have literary license.
How do you spell midlife? Most of us hit it sooner or later. There is no hard and fast age range, but you know when you’ve arrived. Its symptoms haunt people well before their time. Hair clogs the shower drain. Body parts begin to sag or slow down. Body weight increases. Facial features start to droop while taut skin loosens. One day you roll out of bed more tired than the night before.
I think midlife gets a bad rap. Sure, those of us who have arrived face physical decline. But we have plenty of gas left in the tank. And we have wisdom, experience, and self-confidence to propel us when energy cannot. What midlifers lack is the naivety of youth that says we can climb any mountain, no matter how high, or run through any wall, no matter how solid. Struggling to scale tall peaks and run through those sturdy walls that once were manageable may act as justification for a stroll along the sideline of life. But don’t let it. When we move from participant to spectator, we have lost something very precious.
We tend to think we have a lot less “in us” than we really do. Yes, we can accomplish much more than we ever dreamed if only we put forth the effort. So, why don’t we? The human psyche tends to shortchange itself. Not attempting what is well within our reach becomes a self-fulfilling (and self-defeating) prophecy. It is easier not to try, for then we can’t fail, or so we think. Perhaps the stresses of life or the cares of this world sap energy or suck out any remnants of motivation within. But if we arm ourselves with a “can’t-do” attitude, we are choosing a lifestyle that promotes intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and physical decay. The mind begins this desent. Inevitably, the body soon follows suit.
When Debbie and I reached age 50,it was natural to think, what will this be all about? When we decided to marry and bicycle coast to coast two years later, we really began to wonder. But we soon discovered that by embarking on our adventure and agreeing to change, we allowed God to renew us and show us capabilities and enjoyment beyond that of our youth.
If you don’t fight to preserve the vitality you still have, you will soon find yourself accelerating past midlife. You do, after all, have some say in this. Remember, midlife has no age parameters. Use this as license to extend yours. Hone healthy exercise habits and entertain new adventures. There is still a lot of life to live!