Monday, February 02, 2009


Sometimes at work, colleagues and I talk about whether we are more “process” or “task” oriented.

Metaphorically speaking, would we rather build the ship or sail it?

Personally, I would rather build the ship. I want almost nothing to do with sailing it.

I like starting things, creating something from nothing.

Maintaining something after it is built has a quality of endless monotony to me.

On Saturday night, K and I went out to dinner and then saw the play Mauritius.

[Excellent script, props to the playwright.]

After dinner we stopped for coffee.

“I want to tell you something,” I said, “but I don’t want you to take it personally. It’s not about you.”

“Okay,” K said.

“Lately I feel vaguely dissatisfied, kind of bored I guess. It all seems to stretch out endlessly ahead of us.”

K smiled, understanding.
“Every day is the same,” he said.

We talked about whether or not we aren’t officially entering… [roll suspense music]… middle age.


The innumerable possibilities open to us in our twenties and thirties now appear limited, to some extent, by the choices we’ve made.

We’ve built a number of ships – career, family, home.

K and I reflected on the wave of friend’s marriages and births we have witnessed over the last decade or two and speculated about the next wave.

Macabre as it may seem, we laughed at ourselves for imagining that all that we can look forward to is the incoming tide of divorces and deaths.

Last night, my friend Gail invited me to join her and some of her friends for the movie Revolutionary Road.
“You’re going to see THAT the day after our middle aged ennui conversation?” K said.

He prepared himself for a psychiatric intervention upon my return.

Oddly, the film made me feel better somehow.

I certainly don’t feel trapped and without options in the way that a 1950’s housewife might have felt.

Falling asleep after the film, I thought about gardening instead of ship building as an alternative contextual metaphor.

K and I planted two little seeds that sprouted into a family and now we must bend to the task of cultivation.

I should try to learn to find joy in the small, repetitive tasks, such as the pulling of weeds.

After all, I hear it's the careful, daily tending of the plants that brings about a good harvest.


WILLIAM said...

I recently had this conversation as well. It is amid life crisis and you need to go buy a red convertible right now.

JoeinVegas said...

Ah, don't worry my dear, you've only got forty or fifty more years to go.

Jennifer said...

NOT divorces and deaths!
Graduations, and engagements and marriages and babies and empty nest freedom!

Such good things ahead!

TheresaG said...

I saw that play, too, and really enjoyed it.

I think we go through periods of life where things are basically the same day to day. And I think there are times when things seem to be changing or starting or ending left and right. My mom said to me once when I was lamenting the boredom of everyday life, if you want something to change, you have to change what you're doing (or not doing) first. So now when I find myself feeling like I'm stuck in a rut, I try something new (Yoga! Painting! Biking!). Sometimes I even drag my husband along with me!

Christina said...

Good way to re-imagine the future. Although it takes some time to get used to enjoying the repetitive everyday tasks, I'd guess.

And what does it mean if I don't want to be the ship builder or the one to sail it? I'd rather be the designer - imagine it and let others run with my ideas.

Ree said...

Marvelously written.

From one builder to another.

creative-type dad said...

The part about divorces and deaths kind of freaks me out a bit.

We just saw Revolutionary Road. I didn't like it much, primarily because I couldn't get past Leonardo's attempt at trying to pass for a leading man next to Kate Winslet.

Magpie said...

You speak like you're in my head.

Reeky said...

middle age is scary when you are at the door, once inside, you realize it's just one more of life's phases.

In 2 months I turn 47, I'd say I am swimming in middle age.

Every so often I get the thought bubble, "Holy crap, I'm 46, that's old" but most days I feel like I'm still in my 20s or 30s. It's most all in your mind (mostly))

Merrily Down the Stream said...

My back is sore already...

Barb @ getupandplay said...

I'm in my mid-twenties and feel the same way. I think it's a constant battle in life to find joy in the mundane, and to continually reinvent oneself.

Amanda said...

Without cycles it would be one flat line. Keep turning, friend.

BOSSY said...

But then there's always Root Rot. Wait, who said that?

Laura said...

In a few weeks I will be 40, and I too am mulling the same feelings and thoughts. Thank you for sharing.

carrie said...

I'm a pepper --- I mean BUILDER too!

Anonymous said...

I'm more of a sailer. I like the middle. Beginnings and endings are hard for me. First drafts are really hard. Having said that, just about everything good in my life happened after age 40: marriage, kids, my first novel getting published, learning to skate, swim and knit. Annie Proulx didn't start getting her short stories published until her 50's and her first novel in her late 50's. So don't get ready yet for the rocking chair. You've just hit a momentary lull, a temporary sameness. Lovely adventures might be just around the corner.

the mama bird diaries said...

Yes, I've definitely felt this way.. feeling like too many things are behind us, choices have been made. But it all goes in waves. And it does make me appreciate more the little, magical, precious moments.

Michele said...

An important conversations, yes. If you ever want to discuss more, I'm around the corner!! Miss ya!