Reflecting On The Middle, And The End

by Holland-Mark | August 22, 2011

First day back from vacation, thought I’d do what others have done this Summer and offer up a few personal thoughts to mark the occasion.

It’s been a tough couple of months for me, probably tied up in some combination of my eldest daughter’s transition to eye-rolling teen-dom, an intense patch of client opportunities and scale challenges at the agency, and the marking of my 45th year on this mortal coil. Each of these milestones has provided a lens on the journey of Adulthood… on my own expectations at its outset, the challenges I face in its navigation, and the implications of its inevitable conclusion.

Understanding that people die, a defining realization of childhood, is very different from understanding that you will die, a defining realization of middle age. Coming to terms with the latter – essentially making friends with your own mortality – is hard. And it’s just the first step.

After that you need to process the implications of only so many summers. You need to accept there are experiences you will not have. That there are things you will not achieve. Even if your life is good – and to be clear, mine is – there are a thousand lives you will not live.

The way you deal with this realization defines your life’s third act. It can cast a shadow on your routine, or inspire you to bold change. It might open you to new experiences, or push you toward the kind of life-shrinking nostalgia that catches up with us all at some point. On a good day it can drive you to become a better man. On a bad one it will send you slinking into a Porsche dealership.

A level below the cliche’s here are some Big Hairy Questions about the life you will live in the life you have left. And – as if not enough were at stake – your answers to those questions will effectively pass judgement on the life you’ve lived to that point.


So I’ve been lost somewhere in that fog for a while, trying to find a way back to being The Invincible Iron Man I thought I was before I thought about it too much. And while I can’t say I made much progress over a week focused on Quality Time with The Family, I can say this coming back to my “regular” life with a fresh eye: My regular life is pretty fucking good.

It’s clear to me I need to make some changes at the margins of my life, to add a little more of what I need to stay interested, and to make room for those experiences among the obligations that will continue to overwhelm me at times. But the one life I have is the one I made. And so far, it suits me pretty well.

So here’s to what’s left of the Summer of 2011, and however many Summers remain after that. Let’s all make the most of what’s left, by making the absolute most we can of today.

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