The Middle: The Doldrums

Uncategorized Dec 22, 2019

  • Middle Child
  • Midlife
  • Middle of the Road
  • Middle School
  • Middle Seat
  • Stuck in the Middle

Here’s the deal. All of those things I listed aren’t exactly where anyone wants to be. They don’t evoke excitement or fond memories. The middle isn’t the fringes. It’s the middle.

The middle is where we spend most of our lives. And the middle is where we do the most profound yet difficult work to become who we are. Who we need to be. Who we want to be.

Exactly Where I Am

The middle is hard. And it is exactly where I am. Midlife. Far enough out from cancer that I am not really on anyone’s list. I’ve been divorced almost as long as I was married. My body is not young and firm and fit. But I’m not a cute old Grandma either.

The worst part about the middle is it can feel monotonous. Blah.

I’ve been contemplating this post for quite awhile. But when life is blah, writing feels blah. So I sat in it. Sat in the space in the middle. Let it consume me. And no wave came. Nothing washed over me and then resurrected me. No epiphany. Just the middle. Until the last two weeks.

Still no wave of inspiration or epiphanies. Just an understanding of why the middle is too much for some. A dark place. Because for some the middle is where you can’t see or remember where you started and things like joy and inspiration seem too far away.

Kate, Anthony, Ella, and Caden

Kate Spade was an American fashion designer and businesswoman. She was the founder and former co-owner of the designer brand Kate Spade New York. She was married and had 13 year old daughter. Her net worth was around $200 million dollars. On June 5, 2018 at the age of 55 she hung herself with a high end red scarf in her bedroom of her New York apartment.

Anthony Michael Bourdain was an American celebrity chef, author, travel documentarian, and television personality who starred in programs focusing on the exploration of international culture, cuisine, and the human condition. He was madly in love with his girlfriend and had an 11 year old daughter. On June 8, 2018 at the age of 61 he took his life in a hotel room in Strausbourg, France while filming one of his shows.

Ella Hughes was a talented poet and writer, a top student and an avid reader. She sang in the choir. She was young and beautiful. She had many friends and a close family of which she was the oldest. On November 16, 2017 at the age of 14 she hung herself in her backyard.

Caden Nelson was an exceptional athlete especially in football even playing Varsity as a Sophmore. He was just starting wrestling season. He was a huge Imagine Dragons fan. He was the only son in his close family of four. He seemed to be able to make anyone and and everyone smile. On November 21, 2017 at the age of 15, he took his own life in his bedroom with a gun.

Sad Stuff

Weird to lump them together as they are all so very different.

What could be so awful that famous and wealthy Kate or Anthony would take their lives? Why would two teens with seemingly everything going for them kill themselves so young?

We don’t know. I sure don’t know. But I believe, like so many people, they felt stuck. In the middle. In the middle of a problem, trial or relationship. They felt like the world and those close to them would truly be better without them. They felt stuck in their pain.

I look at the middle as the doldrums. You’ve heard the term. Do you know what it is? The “doldrums” is a popular nautical term that refers to the belt around the Earth near the equator where sailing ships sometimes get stuck on windless waters. It’s the middle. Yep, the middle is where we feel like we don’t have any wind in our sails. And in the doldrums the ship and sailors could go weeks, even months with no wind. All they can do is wait. When that happens the whole crew will perish.

I believe the people I mentioned above believed they would never again feel the wind. We see that everyone else around us has the wind in their sails and so we compare our life to theirs. Social media leads us to believe everyone else has perfect homes, makes perfect cakes, have kids that are overachieving and everyone else’s family is on an exotic vacation.

Let me set you straight on all of that. It’s lies.

No one’s house looks like Pinterest because we all actually LIVE in our homes. You should see mine right now. And I have a guest coming in two hours. Shmeh. And those perfect kids and exotic vacays are only what the person posting wants you to see. Social media is like a postcard vs a letter. A postcard is the highlights where as a letter is filled with the details.

Actually, You ARE Moving

Here is where my own recent experience comes into this.

Sometimes, often actually, while I am waiting for my sails to fill with the big life saving gust of wind I am so focused on the big gust I don’t realize there has been an inconspicious breeze the whole time. I HAVE been moving. Just slowly. Slower than I want. And so I get frustrated and feel stuck. That “Welp, this is it. All that life has is this” feeling. Tan pants, vanilla, luke warm. You know?

When stuck in the middle, we just can’t quit. Because we don’t know how close we actually are to a break through, a lesson learned, inspiration, relief, love, or whatever wind it is that we need in our sails.

So I am begging you, Please don’t quit. Please. You think you won’t be missed, but you will be. You think the world and those that love you will be better off without you, but they won’t. You think you are stuck and there is no hope, but there is. The wind will come.

Top photo courtesy of Bryan Minear.

Anthony Michael Bourdain image from Peabody Awards [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Kate Spade image, [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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