Originally, I planned to wait for this post until my birthday on November 14th, but when the post is about not waiting for a better time, why wait! So here goes…
I was listening to an iTunes U podcast about writing recently. It was Tools #32 of Roy’s Writing Tools (Roy Peter Clark, author of Writing Tools) from the Poynter Institute. Writers are taught to create strong beginnings and killer endings, but not much is said about how to create a strong story in between. Clark said, “I’ve never met a writer – even a great one – who was praised for a brilliant middle.”
He suggested that the middle of a story could be made more interesting by … blah blah blah… Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good podcast series. I just zoned out a bit after hearing the idea of not having a brilliant middle. I began to think about middle age.
I’m in my late 40s. That’s not old old, but it’s old enough to force a double-take when I pass by a mirror, because I see my dad’s reflected face instead of my own. It’s old enough for me to stand at the bottom of our stairs and look up as I make a mental list of what else I might need from upstairs, so I can make the most out of one trip.
These are the same stairs I raced my springer spaniel Mollie up and down several times a day last month. I mean 15 years ago. And the same stairs I walked up carrying Mollie to her bed at the foot of ours when her hips no longer had the strength.
Speaking of running, I think that’s pretty much how life is for a lot of us. We run a mundane marathon with moments of terror-sprints. We set a good pace early, but at some indistinguishable point, it blurs into repetition of days, months and years. Then one day we answer the phone, or see the test results, or hear, “We interrupt this program…”.
It’s like we step off the sidewalk onto a busy intersection without looking, and we know we’re there only from the screams and screeching tires. We terror-sprint to the other side praying to live through it, and when we reach the other side and realize we have, we resume the same mindless monotonous pace that brought us to the intersection.
Thankfully, we sometimes we get a hint of our situation from a podcast. Making a brilliant middle is something we all should work toward, whether it’s in the making and editing of a photo series, the crafting of a story, or just living.
I said I’ve reached the middle of my life. Truthfully, I don’t know that. I’ve got no clue how close my “middle” actually is to my end!
We’re all in the middle of our lives, regardless of age. Let’s strive to make the middle brilliant!