Midlife Makeover

My wife and I are undergoing a midlife makeover. Some of it is brought on by massive upheaval, some of it is brought on by zeroing in on personal passions.

It is difficult to tell where the line between upheaval and passion begins and ends. Perhaps in that life review a soul undergoes upon transition we’ll find out it was all part of a significant plot point and there was no line at all.

I’m sure hundreds of thousands if not millions of others are also undergoing the upheaval/passion play in their lives.

Uncertainty reigns.

Excitement glimmers (for what could be).

Fear mounts (for what is lost).

Resources collapse.

There is no clear road ahead, you have to bushwack your way there.

We are already two-and-a-half years into our life makeover. We jettisoned the house first, and spent a year and a half searching for a new home at half the price. We lived in a storage unit — technically it was a condo, but all of our belongings stacked to the ceiling lent it a storage-warehouse chic.

Our business has suffered so many rounds of losses that my friend Russell two days ago compared it to the movie Zulu, where a cohort of soldiers is thinned further and further by overwhelming assault waves. I personally feel like the character in Monty Python and the Holy Grail who loses — one by one — each of his limbs and still continues the fight: It’s just a flesh wound!

But for those of you who are going through it also I can tell you this: by facing each crisis and taking action — whether it is effective or not — sweet relief will come your way, in the most surprising of ways.

What Ann and I have also discovered is that if you keep zeroing in on your passions, somehow, some amazing how you will find yourself ever nearer the target — even as your losses mount! Even in the maw of great financial turmoil I am more convinced than ever that life belongs to those who crave to live it in their fashion.

When I was in my twenties I once picked up a business-suited hitchhiker with a briefcase. As we were driving and talking he opened up about his experience in Vietnam. It was as if this were the first time he’d been able to admit this out loud: that he’d never felt more alive than he had back in the Vietnamese jungle. He’d been determined to feel every sensation. There was nothing he wasn’t taking in — as a matter of survival. He was a million open sensory points.

In his case he was passionate to live, yet upon leaving the battlefield had not found an equal passion. In our case, we are moving toward our passions in the midst of collapse and life becomes all the more dearer the further we travel.

When Russell mentioned the Zulu analogy I had a hearty laugh followed by a wan snort.

“Thanks,” I said, “weren’t they all wiped out?”

“Noooo,” Russell replied, “that’s the thing, a few survived — the Zulus sung out a tribute to their tenacity and left them in peace.”

And I swear that’s how it will be if you zero in on your passions regardless of the mayhem in your life. I’ll prove it over the next few years and update you in these articles from time to time.

Why I encourage you to curse like a sailor -- from a foreign port
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