I am excited because tonight I host my fourth Happier Hour - a gathering of wine, women, and words. For those of you who are new here, the idea behind Happier Hours is that how we spend the hours of our days - thus our lives - matters immensely and the happier these hours are, the happier we are. What makes us happier? Connection and conversation. Oh, and a cocktail can't hurt either.
Tonight's event will be held at the exquisite Pure Yoga West and I am thrilled that the lovely and talented Dani Shapiro will be our speaker. Dani, a writer and thinker whom I respect deeply, will talk about her most recent book Devotion and the myriad questions it raises about life and faith. I have no doubt tonight will be chock full of insights and ideas and I will fill you in tomorrow. But, for now, I leave you with some of Dani's words. Words about being somewhere in the middle of life. Words about identity. Words about the puzzle that is self.
Read these words. Recognize yourself in them.
Who was I, and what did I want for the second half of my life? I mean, I was in the middle of life, the middle of midlife, the middle of a midlife crisis. I had been shaped by choices and decisions, not all of them conscious. I had turned left instead of right; had taken (or not taken) the trip, the flight, the challenge, the chance. Everything I had ever done had led me here -- and while here wasn't a bad place at all, it also wasn't enough. Some essential piece of me was missing, and in the quiet of the country I had an opportunity to figure out what, exactly, that missing piece was.
Devotion, page 123
Once upon a time, the idea of the middle, of being middle-aged, seemed utterly foreign and a bit icky. For I was a kid. Young. At the beginning. But now things are different. Yes, I am older. Yes, I have a family. Yes, I'm more squarely in the middle of my life. But there's something else. Something more universal than this. Something simple and big I'm just realizing: We are all in the middle, really. We are all in the middle of two facts, two existential bookends, we can't escape or deny - birth and death - seated in the days of our life. And here, in this middle spot, we can look in a few directions. We can look back. We can look forward.
We can look in.
And when we look in, if we are honest in our viewing like Dani is on the page's of her fine book, we can see pieces. Pieces of who we are. Who we once were. Who we've become. Who we might be one day. We can also see that there are empty spots, ineffable and elusive, waiting to be noticed, and maybe filled. We can see that there are pieces of us missing even if we don't understand these pieces. And this is okay. Exciting, even. Because we are only in the middle. There are more days to live. If we are lucky, many of them. And those days? Perhaps they should be spent, in part, asking the big questions, figuring out what the missing pieces might be. And how we might find them.
Thank you, Dani, for making me think, for making us all think. I look forward to tonight!
- Do you agree that in some profound and equalizing sense we are all in the middle?
- Do you feel that part of living life is identifying the pieces of who we are, and what pieces might be missing?
- Do you think that people who profess that they are "complete" are in fact missing something? (I do.)