Keep dreaming: Dealing with midlife confusion

This is a big year for me.

Just over a month ago, I turned the page on yet another year and turned 40. For most of my life, the concept of age has been rather inconsequential.

Sure, I was stoked out of my mind when I turned 16 (and a month) and was finally able to get my license to operate a motor vehicle. I was pretty excited when I turned 18, was finally considered a “legal adult” and could vote in elections (let’s be honest, there’s not much adulting that happens at 18 for most of us).

I was thrilled when I turned 21, not necessarily because I was of legal drinking age, but because I could drive a 15-passenger van for our collegiate touring music group. At 25, I could finally rent a car or hotel room on my own.

After that, there’s not a whole lot built into a birthday that’s worthy of excitement. It’s just another reminder that I am another year older.

Sure, there are things that have happened in the course of those years that were noteworthy, but it really had nothing to do with my age. All that said, 40 has felt pretty big for me.

By the numbers, the odds are pretty high that I’m entering the back half of my life (sigh). I am officially at “midlife.” I don’t know that I would call my present state of being a midlife crisis, but I have had some moments of midlife confusion.

At 40, I’m no longer what most would consider young. At the same time, I’m not what most would consider old, either. I’m somewhere in the murky middle between the two.

I have a healthy body of work to look back on, but I still have a lot of life in front of me. That being said, many of the dreams from my younger years are either impossible or extremely improbable. Honestly, though, I think we tend to have moments of midlife confusion at multiple stages of life.

I had some pretty epic dreams for what I would do with my life. Growing up as a kid in Indiana in the ‘90s, only two short hours from Chicago, I had dreams of basketball glory. My dream was to play basketball professionally, ideally as a teammate of Michael Jordan, Scotty Pippen and Dennis Rodman.

I wasn’t unaware of the facts. I knew I wasn’t ever going to be the best, but if Steve Kerr and John Paxson could do it, I had a chance. If that didn’t happen to work out, I thought I would be a rock star. I dreamed of writing hit songs and rocking packed venues with my band. Needless to say, none of that has happened to this point.

At the ripe old age of 40, one would think I would have moved on from such outlandish dreams, that I would have grown up. I don’t know that I have, and I don’t know that I want to. I still like to shoot fadeaway jump shots in my backyard. I still see the clock winding down in my head and fire the shot up at the last second with the game on the line.

I still sit in my living room trying to write that hit song. As I write, I imagine hearing it play on the radio or playing it live to audiences the world over with my band, Consider.

Truthfully, I am perfectly content not achieving either of these dreams. Further, as I reflect back on my life, I know I’ve done things that were beyond my wildest expectations.

By God’s grace, he has allowed me to accomplish “immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine.” I think in the end, our dreams aren’t so much about the specific thing we want to do as they are about us wanting to do something that matters. We all want to know that we can make an impact with the time we are given.

“Age is just a number.” I’ve heard this quote numerous times throughout my life by people of all ages. Those who are further along in years use it to communicate that they are “young at heart” and still have a lot of life left to live and a lot left to offer the world. Those who are younger use it to argue that, though they have less life experience, they too are perfectly capable of making meaningful contributions to the world.

We all, regardless of age, hold onto the hope that we still carry some level of potential and power to impact the world in a positive manner. In the end, this is the dream. We all want to believe we are making our mark on the world.

In spite of the crisis or confusion of any age, may we all keep dreaming. And as we trust him with those dreams, let us pray with the Psalmist, “May the Lord grant your heart’s desires and make your plans succeed.”

The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at Send comments to [email protected].