One of the things that I have noticed about living abroad is that changes with friends and family at home seem all the more stark to me when I return. What might seem to others to be a slow, imperceptible decline feels shockingly huge and abrupt to me. And now that I am in my 40's, middle age I suppose, I am seeing and feeling the sadness and bitterness of lives not having turned out the way one hoped and planned.
I feel so young, and so blessed in many ways. I have tried to live my life in a way that I am constantly doing meaningful things and seizing opportunities. As much as the day-to-day gets me down sometimes, I still feel pretty good about my life, my lovely girls, my husband, my career, my choices. I am lucky. I am blessed. I also push myself to keep going, to stretch beyond my limits, and to take advantage of opportunities, because I have always felt like if you don't, you wither, stagnate, grow bored and listless.
I am struck by how many people I know have reached a point where maybe they did not end up in a place that they sought out: that stagnation point. It's been such a long, slow slide for them that maybe they are surprised that they are where they are. To me, it's jarring to have seen the before, been away for the middle bit, and now returning to see this. There is just a hopelessness, a sadness, where before there was a joy of life. And I'm seeing it enough, across enough people that don't really know each other or have relationships with each other, that I think it's something that is not uncommon.
I guess this is midlife, and I guess this is what is behind the so-called "crisis." You've driven along a road, and it turned out that it didn't go where you expected, and you feel like you've driven so far for so long that it would be impossible to go back and start over and take another route. Hence, hopelessness, depression, fear.
I say, screw that. Life is too short. As long as you are breathing, you can start over, try again, live, thrive, achieve, enjoy. The alternative is just too damn sad.