1- Pardon me, could you spare a midlife crisis?

I have three weeks to find income. My rent is too high, my debt too high, and now my income is ending. On the eve of a full moon, with visions of homelessness for my daughter and myself looming in my mind, I sit here blogging. How perfect is that? The clock is ticking, the keyboard clicking. Three weeks….sounds like those movies “6 weeks”, where someone only has so long to live, and the importance of everything in their life gets magnified.

Suddenly, I am ready to sell that fancy, dusty mountain bike. Even the pretty road bike if need be. Suddenly, I can picture other possibilities. Funny, I am so stressed about not finding work, yet the fact that I could take any job right now without fear of someone looking down on me, or feeling I was giving up on being a pharmacist, pleases me. It’s liberating in a sense. Suddenly, I could pursue just about anything, except that I only have 3 weeks to find and secure real income. Maybe now is my chance to be a bartender….?

So, where is the Dharma in this?

Katherine Streeter for The Chronicle Review

Funny that I found out today I will not have my job as of the end of this month. Just this morning, a pharmacy student I had met on an airplane to ASHP Midyear Clinical meeting in New Orleans this last December emailed me this article titled “What Are You Going to Do With That?” by William Deresiewicz.

It talks about what I suppose is my midlife crisis (although I prefer to consider it an awakening vs a crisis), where you wake up and question everything in your life. Your career, your lifestyle, your choice of clothes, choice of partners, why on earth you do (or do not) have kids, your choice of hair color, etc, etc all gets questioned.  For me, it was coming out of 10 years of college with my Doctor of Pharmacy degree and wondering if I really liked pharmacy…wondering if I could just go back to dancing, which made me so happy and didn’t have all of the legal hoops to jump through.

One thing the author discusses is “moral imagination.”

True innovation means using your imagination, exercising the capacity to envision new possibilities…. It’s not about inventing a new machine or a new drug. It’s about inventing your own life. Not following a path, but making your own path. The kind of imagination I’m talking about is moral imagination. “Moral” meaning not right or wrong, but having to do with making choices. Moral imagination means the capacity to envision new ways to live your life.

It means not just going with the flow. It means not just “getting into” whatever school or program comes next. It means figuring out what you want for yourself, not what your parents want, or your peers want, or your school wants, or your society wants. Originating your own values. Thinking your way toward your own definition of success. Not simply accepting the life that you’ve been handed. Not simply accepting the choices you’ve been handed. When you walk into Starbucks, you’re offered a choice among a latte and a macchiato and an espresso and a few other things, but you can also make another choice. You can turn around and walk out. When you walk into college, you are offered a choice among law and medicine and investment banking and consulting and a few other things, but again, you can also do something else, something that no one has thought of before.

Here I stand, on the edge of a cliff. Keeping me frozen here are thoughts of homelessness, impending bankruptcy, my daughter’s security, my career. A little voice somewhere inside of me is giggling with excitement at all the possibilities. When you are forced by circumstances to consider what before seemed absurd, a whole world opens up. The voice is telling me to jump! Go flying over the cliff and trust that the water below will welcome you softly.

Starting tonight, on the eve of a full moon, I am going to sleep with my “moral imagination” tuned in, ready to receive the beautiful story of the way through this really. freaking. difficult. time in my life. It’s all about choices, and my purpose in this journey is to follow my heart.

Let’s start! I’m ready.

  • Fotoforme

    wonderful amy!

  • Thank you so much! More to come. Please share any thoughts you have. I love reader input and insight.

  • scott

    if you don’t know i’m scott white, and read your post this a.m. i can totally relate to your thoughts. i’ve been dealing w/a nasty foot issue for a month. it has pretty much brought me to a screeching halt. i went to a specialist a month ago, got fitted w/orthotics, but the pain is still present. went to a unm podiatrist today and was totally unimpressed. what the article above says about innovation and imagination. i called last week to make the appt and they said it would be a 7 week wait. i angrily made the appt, but last monday i thought ‘i can’t/won’t wait’, called back to see if they had cancellations and got in today. i was the only person to be seen. he saw me for 10 minutes, recommended otr inserts, rest, and said he thought i had a little tear. i asked him ‘wouldn’t an mri tell you that for sure?’
     he said yes, but he didn’t think i needed one.
    different situation than yours but alike in that. i’ve been lying awake at night thinking everything in the book. i think for me, looking at every person, place or thing as an opportunity helps bring me what i want, even if that sounds predatory.
    i mean, even when i started feeling foot pain, i heard about the orthotics guy, also at unm, but was told it would be 2-3 months before i could see him.
    the very next day, i saw a friend who is a pt at nm orthopedics. as we talked, i asked her ifshe knew dexter, she said ‘yea, he’s great, my bf has an appt with him in 2 weeks but needs to cancel. guess what i did, i got the bf’s appt, after about 10 emails……
    so i say stay in your gut, it’s where most people fear to go….paz….

    •  Aloha Scott! I replied to your comment earlier, but it didn’t seem to “stick”. Then I realized you had written more, so I am glad I went back. I remember you talking about how much you enjoyed making furniture way back as we were standing in the gym. So impressed with how you have done with that!
      Thanks for sharing your story. It’s true to stay in your gut and to keep asking until you get the answer you want. Or, turn around and go somewhere else.
      Also, looking at every person, place, and thing as an opportunity is not at all predatory. It is evaluating where you best align, who you align best with, and keeping yourself open to the myriad of possibilities life offers us.
      Keep up the great work, and I hope your foot issue resolves!

  • I just heard about your situation from our mutual friend, Shane. I know it doesn’t look like it right now, but this is an opportunity. For what? Anything. I left a 25-year career in the computer industry that I didn’t have to (but really needed to) leave in 2004 and became an entrepreneur, whether I wanted to be one or not. In many ways, I’m still in the process of reinventing (and discovering) myself after being a corporate drone my entire adult life up to that point. Turns out Maui has done more to facilitate that than the mainland ever could have.

    Dig deep. Find out what you love and live it. Be open to possibilities and seize them, even if they end up being wrong. At least you’ll know. Trust your gut. It learns faster than your head. Income is just a problem that needs solving. You’ll find a way.

    Let me know if I can help.

    • Thanks Peter!
      I am actually going to blog about that tonight. Maui is amazing for making things happen, that’s for sure. And everything you stated is spot on. The gut knows even before anything has happened.

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