On “Middle Age”

twisty road I recently published my third book, “The Edge of Middle — thoughts from the top of the hill.”  

These 25 poems, fictional stories and essays explore the twisty road to, and through, “middle age” from the view of a 50-something father and husband taking that trip.

However, “middle age” means something different to me…as I outline here in the Forward to the book:

This is not a book about “middle age”, per se.

After all, age is an artificial construct of time, determination and attitude. You know what they say – “You’re only as old as you feel”; “Age is just a date”; “Sixty is the new thirty”, etc.

Rather, these twenty-five poems, fiction stories and essays are reflections from and about the trip between early to later adulthood.

They’re ruminations about the many hard lessons that Life teaches – most of all that our choices, what we believe and how we behave earn both rewards and consequences; the battles fought for knowledge, happiness, serenity and stability – some lost, some won, some just survived; and the path we travel, not always smooth, but smoother, step by step.

(NOTE: I am not as dark or angry as some of these pieces might suggest – heaven forbid! Thankfully for everyone involved – especially me — most end on a redemptive note.)

Middle age is like being at the top of a favorite roller coaster. Having been here many times, we know what’s coming — the path, the twists, the turns, the loops. The “knowing” doesn’t always soothe the nervous stomach anticipating yet another lap around Life’s clackety, wooden track.

Still, the view from the peak of that first drop is breathtaking. The trip, exhilarating. The ride, over too fast. So, we try to enjoy it while we can and get back in line as quickly as possible. After all, you never know when the ride may close.

Youth gives us Fire. Age gives us Wisdom. Both are gifts. Vital, and linked.

As we move into middle age, we see both the past and future more clearly. Our achievements and failings. Our strengths and weaknesses. Our celebrations and disappointments.

We come to understand that we are not who we were, nor necessarily who we had hoped to be – but that there is still time.

We strive, armed with the understanding that comes with experience and (hopefully) growing maturity, to improve our own lives and the lives of those around us.

And we reaffirm the most important Life Lesson of all: that everything is better — if not always easier — with friendship, patience, humor, sympathy, empathy and love.

No matter what my daughters say, I am not “over the hill.” But I’m close enough to the top that I can see what’s on the other side.

And it doesn’t look too bad.