I’m not sure I believe in a “bigger” purpose in life. If I take out a telescope to look at the stars I am filled with amazement at how awesome the universe is, but also overcome with a sense of how small and insignificant I am. Because I believe this is the only life we’re given, and because of the terrible injury and illness I witness on a regular basis via my job in healthcare, I’ve long felt a desire to live in the moment and make the most of what I have. If I’m lucky enough to reach the age of 80, I want to be able to look back without too many regrets.
Sometimes it’s hard to step back from your current trajectory and evaluate if you’re living a life that gives you happiness, peace, and purpose. It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of our daily grind – work, budgeting, commutes, keeping kids alive and shuttled to their various activities, keeping pets alive and healthy, grocery shopping, meal planning, cleaning, never ending laundry. It can be so exhausting that at the end of the day there is rarely the mental energy available to reflect on yourself, or whether you’re accomplishing *your* goals.
Soon you may find yourself guided by the tremendous pressures from our society. You are told you need the bigger house, newer car, nicest clothes. You are told to “outsource” some of the minutiae to give yourself more mental energy, which helps, but only to a point. You can outsource your house cleaning to a maid, eat more convenience foods to spare yourself the meal planning, etc…but then you start to feel the pressure to work more so you can afford this lifestyle with its outsourcing and constant pressures for more.
You work more and find you are spending less and less time with your kids. You’ve long given up your pre-kid pre-adulting hobbies. Regular exercise? Ain’t nobody got time for that. And then one day, you look in the mirror and think “this isn’t what I signed up for.” I imagine many people hit this point and feel stuck, and then fall into a pit of despair. After all, if you have dependents it’s not as if you can simply throw up your hands and say “screw this”, and walk away from it all to live in the peace of some Buddhist monastery. Perhaps this is where the midlife crisis arises from – this desire to create some new purpose without straying too far from what our society has deemed acceptable. New house, new expensive toys, fancy vacation, maybe a new marriage.
But those are not things I need, and while I can’t control every aspect of my life there is a lot still within my control. I am captain of my ship. Of course this assumes I actually know what I want – to untangle myself from the influences of everything around me can be its own challenge. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I’m still willing to try, to change, and hopefully grow.
Todd and I talk a lot about our priorities and our future. There was a time when we were both working crazy hours while trying to manage small children – we had a ton of help from family and tried to outsource what we could, but it was still exhausting and ultimately not what we wanted. We did it for a short time because we had to, and when we hit the point where it was no longer a necessity we made immediate changes. Todd transitioned from working full-time to full-on stay at home dad mode with occasional freelance work. Did I mention he homeschools, too?
As our kids are getting a bit older and we’re emerging from the fog of the baby years, our needs and goals have evolved. We are trying to rediscover ourselves, our purpose, while also incorporating these cool small people we welcomed into our life and giving them the tools they need to feel confident exploring our world. As it currently stands, here are our main priorities:
Learn new skills and push ourselves outside of our comfort zone
Experience new things and new places with our family
Enrich the world
Welcome to our journey!