Waking from the middle of a dream set in outer space, she found herself in her usual position, curled on her side and she imagined the alarm going off. Soon, she would stand and begin to get ready, making herself up for the day. And of course she worried about her appearance, turning 45. There were the obvious things to throw her into a spiraling fear-fall: the skin just that much more worn, stomach that much more slack, and silver threads sparkling through the dark cloud of hair that was hers.
But those weren’t really the topics about age she cared about, lying there in those last moments in that surreal space between sleep and wakefulness. She thought, “What about the unseen things?” Doesn’t 45 mean some kind of wisdom and having got somewhere, finally? She was faintly embarrassed by the truth: She was no more wiser than when she was a young woman. Yes, she had more compassion, but more cynicism, too.
She sat up from the bed, pushing the sheets and blankets aside, wanting to see the tableau of her life. The sun had not come all the way up and it was partially dark, but from her viewpoint, she summed up her achievements, proud of so many, and also unable to not notice the spaces she had not visited and the aspects of terrain she had never mapped. She sat in the middle of life and saw that roads appeared in every direction before her, roads downward and roads upward, paths she wanted to walk and learn: inner peace (45 and still restless), satisfied disposition (45 and still wanting), a deep understanding of self (45 and still surprised to be meeting herself), a sense of completeness (45 and still wondering what and who she will be when she grows up).
She got off the bed and walked toward the start of one road, visible in the starlight. She unlatched a gate and stepped onto it’s dirt path. In the pale dark, she could make out that it was worn and cleared by others’ having walked it–a million artists and daydreamers and seekers before her.
Taking a step, she asked God, “Shouldn’t I be settled in by now, 45 and comfortable?” Shouldn’t the desire for bigger sentimentality and more intensity and deeper connection and magic-magic-magic have either been fulfilled, or realism and equanimity put in its place? Shouldn’t she have successfully achieved that thing always talked about: loving yourself?
She looked up for answers and spied a satellite. She was surprised, she thought her satellite would have docked by now, by 45, having learned enough out there in the galaxy. Instead, there it was, continuing its orbit, still gathering data, still researching. She reached her hands up and out, waiting for the satellite’s message. It poured light downward, illuminating the path under her feet. She took a step.