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Midlife malaise—a general feeling of uneasiness often associated with reaching middle age—is not a phrase I coined. But I have experienced it. It's something of a listless uncertainty about the future.
I'm more than halfway through my life. Now that circumstances have changed so drastically, what in the world am I going to do with the time I have left?
Just when I started to make progress on my midlife transformation, Covid threw the world into chaos. More accurately, those intent on using Covid to throw the world into chaos leapt to the challenge with gusto.
So many important goals—most so much bigger than my own—were blown to smithereens. Even attempts to alleviate the suffering of others due to the authoritative measures were thwarted by fear and mandate. When I did what I thought was right (and contrary to demands) there was always risk of reprisal.
I tried research and presenting (real) science and data. I tried rational discussion. I tried living by example. But my platform is minuscule and the impact abysmal. Helplessly, I watched society spiral.
Today, my life is mostly back to “normal.” (With the exception of recent familial medial issues—a difficult topic for another day.) But the looming threat of government overreach and the oppression of mass psychosis, still overrides every decision. (It's never far away, even in “conservative” Utah.) Inflation and shortages make long-term planning impossible. Lack of civility and logic, make it unlikely that we can return to stability without a major disaster forcing the situation.
My motivation to push through with anything has been seriously hampered.
Are you feeling the same way?
After years of writing essays in listservs, forums, and on my own subscription newsletter, I started writing for a large website in the late 1990s. I created my first blog on January 1, 2003. (It began a few months pre-WordPress, so readers emailed comments and I entered them manually in HTML. True story.)
But now, with all my kids grown and my decades of homeschooling them over, I stare blankly at the keyboard, unable to think of anything I want to write about. Now that my discretionary time is greater than it has been since…ever…and even though I have so many thoughts about so many meaningful (and also fluffier) topics, it's very hard to think of any I want to invest the mental effort to put down in writing.
Because it doesn't seem to matter whether I do it or not.
Today, in another slump of writer's block, I realized (or remembered) that my writing isn't intended to change the world. It's intended to change me.
No one reads this blog. I haven't been nearly consistent enough to get any traffic and I never share posts. (It doesn't exist as far as the google demi-gods are concerned.) But writing forces me to clarify my thinking. And, by so doing, forces me to think harder.
So I'm going to commit to writing more regularly (definition yet to be determined). It might only be related tangentially to midlife because I am, myself, in midlife. But I will write anyway. (Hopefully about something (anything) other than being unmotivated.) And see where it takes me.
If it's like my past blogging experiences, it will take me someone I didn't imagine when I started.
Alison Moore Smith is a 59-year-old entrepreneur. She has been (very happily) married to Samuel M. Smith for 38 years. They are parents of six incredible children and grandparents to two astounding grandsons.
She is the author of The 7 Success Habits of Homeschoolers.