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.