A man in middle age may have lost much he once took for granted: his youth, his looks, and perhaps, for some, his hair. Perhaps even his ambition. But he gains something as well. At least he should. At this stage of life, a man should have philosophy or perhaps, better said, philosophy should have him. Middle age is close enough to the inevitable end. You know - the end we all try to deny. At this age, one has to finally face it and facing death makes either makes one insane, enlightened or a philosopher. Most people choose philosopher.
The clock on the wall struck the half hour as I write this. It's a sturdy antique wall clock, it's comforting tick/tock, tick/tock plays the background music of my days. On those increasingly rare instances that I lie awake, unable to find neverland, I count the early morning hours by its chimes. Our clock comes from the mid 1800s, so it's approaching something like 150-200 years in age now and it just keeps on ticking. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
A man in middle age has (or at least I have) ordered his life into a peaceful, more accomplished routine. I'm lucky (blessed some insist I say) to have worked hard as a younger man to achieve goals and build things that serve me well now: a smart, beautiful wife, a nice home, a business that does well, a schedule that I mostly call my own. I've settled into a nice routine. My life has a certain daily and weekly circadian rhythm that reminds me a little of the tick/tock of that wall clock. My life has become a well oiled machine.
I know the best path to take from the bedroom to the kitchen. My office chair is conveniently worn in a way that fits me just right when I sit down to write missives such as the one you read now. I know exactly how hard I can turn the handle to our utility room without the door handle falling out the other side. Our front door sticks on warm days and I know the exact amount of pressure to apply to open it without bruising myself or damaging the door. When you live in a house for a quarter of a century, with another person, you develop these beautiful routines. You don't even have to speak much of the time. You know what to do and everyone in the house just does it. Tick/Tock. Tick/Tock.
The clock seems happy here. We've never had to have it repaired. We don't do anything to maintain it, except wind it every week or two. It seems restful. At peace with its place on life. It's a machine that provides the cadence that drives the pace of the machinations of our life.
I'm glad I have some time to pay attention to the little things now. The fat frog who comes out for air on our front walkway. The lilies that are starting to bloom in the corner of our back yard. The cooing of the doves each morning outside our bedroom window. Even the loud cacophony of the barn swallows that took residence underneath the eves of our front porch, despite my yearly attempts to dissuade them.
These seemingly insignificant things mark the days, weeks and months. Tick. Tock.
And yet. And yet…..
While peace, tranquility and happiness goals we all strive for, I have to say, it’s not quite enough. Not yet. As a man who has achieved said tranquility, there still is something more needed. Middle age is old, but not dead. And I may be an armchair philosopher, but I'm not enlightened yet.
I wonder if the clock saw grand spectacles in its youth? Did it preside over an elegant ball? Did it live in some noble man's study and was it privy to the sordid lives of the upper class? Or did it live in a farmer's great room? Did it watch children play underneath it's cadence and strike the top of the hour telling their parents that it was time for them to be sent to bed? How did it it get to the United States? Did it come across on an ocean going vessel?
Oh, what tales of adventure that clock could tell!
Does it long for a few more adventures?
I know I certainly do.
So, like the clock, I too keep the cadence of my life's routine. Tick. Tock. And I wonder if maybe, just maybe, it's time to break my peaceful routine and go in search of yet another adventure?