Being a mid-life “orphan” is disorienting. As I contemplate what I want to do for the rest of my life, who I want to be, I realize how much time I spend looking over my shoulder for objections, judgments, or approval. But now, each time I turn to look, there’s no one there. My mother, my only remaining judge (both real and imagined), died in September. My father and brothers are gone. My sister and I do not have the kind of relationship where she would express an opinion on my life choices; and if she did, it would not carry any weight. And so as I contemplate what to do now that I no longer am responsible to anyone or anything, save my five precious cats, I am finding the freedom a bit jarring.
I could quit my job tomorrow. There is no one to tell me not to: No parent, no spouse, no children. And the cats, well, they’re all for it. If I quit, I might have to work again some day, depending upon how my investments do and if my (formerly “my father’s”) business turns a profit. But common wisdom is to wait a year before making big decisions in the aftermath of a loss. And so I (or perhaps I am hearing the voice of my dead father) tell myself to stick it out at my law job for a year or two more. The job hasn’t been bad this past year. And currently I am in a position of power. I don’t have to be there. I can walk away if they make my life unpleasant or difficult. I have the F$$$ You Money. And besides, it isn’t sensible to walk away from my career at fifty-three. It isn’t rational to walk away from the money. Who walks away from that kind of paycheck?
But what about the idea of using the energy of loss, of grief, to fuel change? If I don’t make the leap now, will I settle into a steady pattern (i.e., a rut) and stay there until the end of my days? If not now, when?
Some days, I want to turn my life upside down and give it a good shake. Other days, I want to stay in bed under the covers surrounded by cats. Either way, there’s no one to tell me not to. The only voice that matters now, the only voice still living, is my own. I can do what I want. If only I knew what that is.
Two images from today: