Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them. ~Thoreau

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them. ~Thoreau

― Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays: Collected Essays of Henry David Thoreau


There comes a time when you really get it that there is more behind you than ahead of you.

That whatever you see in the mirror –that probably isn’t what other people see. And sometimes they will tell you in really harsh ways.

That you are never going to be as attractive as you were. That no matter what you do you aren’t going to ever be that attractive again, because that time has passed. Now you need to consider looking ‘good for your age,” or even “great for your age.”

That there will be no more children. Not ever. And crying about that often, so often, doesn’t lessen the pain, that nothing does but time.

That you are now officially old.

That it really isn’t going to get any better. This is as good as it gets. That isn’t such a bad thing necessarily. It isn’t like my life is horrific in any sense. It’s just that the expectations of earlier years don’t match up with what I’m living.

I didn’t think being an adult meant constantly worrying if the ceiling was going to cave in or the floor. I mean that literally and metaphorically. 

Somewhere I got the idea that contentment and happiness weren’t the same thing. But at a certain point you get that life isn’t a party, or even often part of a party, that companionship and a general safety and support—that’s the happiness.

But that isn’t what we’re told. We’re told that if we are doing it right we’ll always be passionate about our work, fulfilled and also  passionately in love and—while we’re at it we should be amazing at crafting for our kids and their projects while also effortlessly being physically fit.

That’s a huge load of bull. 

I didn’t think that having kids meant that in order for them to have a life and be safe in this terrifyingly messed up economy you would have to direct them away from professions that might bring them happiness towards things that will foremost enable them to support themselves. The days of doing like I did—getting my degrees in an arts field, figuring out there were no jobs and that I had a talent elsewhere (computers) and sliding into that—well those days are over. It’s sad but the arts—they are really just disappearing. I would never tell our daughter to get a degree in English.

All I can see right now  are how things, like our government, our society, are working much less well than they ever have.  How things are crumbling and falling apart—in  others, in me, in general. Just crumbling. How there is so much more anger and strife than there was. And it’s sad and scary.  I thought this time in my life would be different.

not the life you expected

It isn’t the time, it’s me. I have to learn to expect different things, to want different things. To stop wanting many things. To be content I need to look at this time in a completely different way. I guess. Maybe. I don’t know.


  1. Christine

    There is so much I want to say about this subject! Yes and yes and yes, me too. You’re right–things are screwed up. There’s so little room for error now, it seems.

    I have to believe that there’s still the possibility of better times ahead. It won’t be the same as it was when we were young, but I think it can still be good. There has to be more ahead than a series of losses.

    I know I still want things, and wonder if I’m too old to want them, or get them. And for sure I don’t want to make yet more wrong choices to regret later! But how to know? I used to be so heedless! Now, I’m scared to make a mistake. That is the worst.

    Big hugs for you!

    1. Jyllian M

      It’s a weird time. I am certainly down about some of these things, and resigned to others. I feel really good about being in a place where I don’t care what others think of me (for the most part) but saddened when I’m made fun of online for ‘being old’ I also just thought there would be …more…somehow. Just …more…you know?

  2. Christine

    Yeah, I thought I’d be fulfilled by now. I’m disappointed in where I’ve ended up–which is certainly NOT where I wanted to be at this age! I thought I’d “have it together” or have accomplished something really worthwhile, and I’m not feeling it.

    I never anticipated the losses, both sudden and gradual. I didn’t think the rug would be pulled out from under my feet in nearly every area of life!

    I want to reinvent myself yet again; sometimes I’m excited and sometimes I’m afraid it’s not possible. I do think that if I can accept (if not embrace) where I am and let go of what I did or didn’t do, I can reach for something that will feel good to me going forward. As in, where do I want to be in 15 or 20 years? What can I set in motion now to move in that direction?

    1. Jyllian M

      That’s the thing…I find myself understanding the losses were going to come and have come and will come. I know things don’t turn out how you expect them to, but I guess I thought there would be more personal power, more flexibility.
      I haven’t figured out how to fully let go of what was supposed to be in some areas. And I find myself frustrated that I can’t see something amazing around the corner like I used to.

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