Friends, guests, those of you who remember “Pong” and feel greater nostalgia for Wings than The Beatles, welcome. Welcome to the first day of the rest of your midlife.
Webster’s Dictionary defines “midlife” as “something something the middle of life something something.” Unfortunately, I can’t read the actual definition because the print in Webster’s Dictionary is too small and I’ve misplaced my glasses again.
Fortunately, as I look out at you, Midlifers of 2012, I am able to see your shining faces, your eyes wide with optimism or possibly too much caffeine, the low morning light of the assembly hall gently glinting off the wrinkles around your mouths, and I can’t help but wonder, “How many of you have already had work done?
Today is a day of hope as you set forth on the road to the second half of your existence, even though maybe only 30 of those years will offer full quality of life, 35 tops. Quite frankly, any day now you’ll find yourself listening to AM radio and jotting down phone numbers for home security systems and burial plots.
But that’s the mystery, Midlifers of 2012. You don’t know for sure what the future will bring. Your fate may seem set in stone, and you may feel it’s already too late to change the path that you’re on. But let us recall the words of Robert Frost:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
I consulted my GPS and understood
I’d shave 10 minutes off my commute
If I took exit 4 onto Thunder Road
At midlife, it’s tempting to be haunted by the road not taken, but chances are you will be far more haunted by the rogue hair not plucked, the one jutting disturbingly from your forehead that you can see out of the corner of your eye but can’t quite snag.
Remember that life is a highway. It’s also a song by Tom Cochrane that you can sing at the top of your lungs while driving 20 km/h under the speed limit as your children cringe in the backseat. Embrace those moments.
Mother Teresa once said, “Get out of my kitchen before I bean you with this frying pan.” I think we can all take something from that statement. Are we not all in the kitchen of midlife, terrorized by the wrinkly nun of our insecurities and doubts? Do we stay in the kitchen where there’s heat and food but a high risk of concussion? Or do we leave it all behind, take a risk, write that tell-all biography of a certain sister’s not-so-charitable behaviour?
Midlifers of 2012, yours is an age of opportunity: “op” for the optometrist who fits you for progressive lenses; “purr” for the cats that you can relate to way more than you used to; “tune” for the music of the eighties that wasn’t so bad after all, certainly better than today’s garbage; “it” as in “it only hurts when I do this, doctor”; and finally “tea” as in no tea after 4 o’clock or you’ll have a jumpy leg all night.
Dare to dream, Midlifers of 2012 (especially if you accompany that tea with a burrito just before bedtime, which never used to be a problem, but now, forget about it!). Remember that there are no good ideas or bad ideas, only ideas you have completely forgotten because you didn’t write them down as soon as you thought of them.
It’s not too late. Sure, you’ve started using “garage sale” as a verb, you’ve posted a novelty sign on your front yard that reads “I Fought the Lawn and the Lawn Won,” the last bar you were at was the sandbar at Old Orchard Beach, and you’re only staying married because you realize no one else would have you at this point. But let
us remember the words to that Night Ranger song: “You’re motoring/What’s your price for flight,” and let us once again ask ourselves: What the hell does that mean? Who the heck is Sister Christian? And does she likewise wield a frying pan?
Be true to yourself, Midlifers of 2012. Spread your wings. Seize the day. Walk like an Egyptian.
I’d like to leave you with these inspirational words from Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world. And always pay a bit extra for decent dental floss.”