I was sitting in a study room at a Library, wondering if I had made a mistake, when I overheard a loud and aggravating voice seeping through the thin walls.

Yeah, so that line is maybe going to be the opening one for a short story contest I am maybe going to enter if I maybe don’t lose my mind or my nerve in the process.

I seriously sometimes don’t get it. Don’t get my aberrant, neurotic self. But on the paradoxical flip side, I have never been more ok with myself in all my (almost 44) years. For someone who can’t stand wasting time, you’d think that conclusion would’ve happened long ago.

Instead, like everything worth anything, it’s been a process. Sometimes grueling, other times easy; sometimes unapologetic, and sometimes nothing but every single sentence spewed from my mouth peppered with “I’m sorry’s.” It kind of depends on the day. Or, the decade.

I am in a season of life that used to seem ancient to me. I used to look at my parents – in their forties – and think, “Oh my god are they OLD.” They don’t get it. They are boring. What do they even do anymore?

Now that I find myself one year away from the exact middle of that decade, I realize many more facts about “middle age” than I did then. You never know what something actually feels like until you go through it, right? Put yourself in their shoes, they say.

Some of my shoes hurt my feet so badly by the end of the day I want to throw them across a room filled with insensitive youngsters and watch, in slow motion, as a heel impales one of them right in their taught and un-wrinkly throats – while other footgear is comfortable, matches perfectly, and even provides a helpful little spring in my step that, on a good day, allows me to run circles around those whose age I used to be.

No wonder people who go through middle age make so many missteps along the way. It’s sort of its own little weather-pattern (hurricane, tsunami) and much like the seasons of the year, there is a very distinct and very real feeling to it.

It feels mundane.

It feels freeing.

It feels confusing.

It feels irrelevant.

It feels…slow and wasteful, encsased tightly in a package of time urgency that our becoming-arthritic hands are unable to open quickly enough.

It is, for all intents and purposes, an entrapment of sorts. On days of lament, you sense a feeling of being stuck somewhere between being needed all the time by children who are now adults and wanting to figure out how to fix not only that unfillable void, but also fix the world while there is still time. To make a difference while there is still time. To be wanted and valued and important while there is still time.

Honestly, I’m not sure those thoughts and constitutions are age-dependent. There is always an unfillable void – that’s simply our human nature; our broken conditions that are, in and of themselves, a process of understanding and acceptance. Yet uncharacteristically bad seasonal choices seem to exacerbate this condition on an on-going basis.

In 10 days, I am giving a Keynote speech to a room filled with women. While that might be a definite horrid choice in a weak attempt to feel wanted and valued and important, I’m oddly looking forward to it. I will be talking about this exact thing: how we, as human beings – no additional labels necessary – mask our unfillable voids (read: FEAR) through the craziest, stupidest possible means.

Sure, sometimes those choices make for REALLY GOOD STORIES that leave you gasping for air since you can’t breathe from all the gut-wrenching “You did what?!” laughter – but at the end of the day, does anyone really want to have to excuse themselves to the restroom during a dinner date, make a beeline to front door, and walk 6 miles home?

Probably not.  (My feet have never NOT hurt so much in my life.)

More on this topic forthcoming.  That is, if I get out of that conference unscathed! Women…shoes…sh*t.

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