It’s been on me for a while now, but I haven’t known what to call it, or how to articulate it.
‘Middle aged’ has been and gone if that’s what the 40’s are and now I’m in my 50’s – later 50’s even. I am realising that life is shifting before my eyes and this is actually a most critical of times.
In football or basketball everyone knows that the third quarter is where the game is won or lost. It’s why we call it the ‘premiership quarter’. You get to half time ‘even’, or, maybe with some catching up to do – yet you are far enough from the end of play to not have to deal with it yet. You can pull it back from here… you think… Maybe you can turn the game around. You can also be 6 goals up, kicking with the breeze and lose. Third quarters are where teams either find their stride and move strongly towards victory or where they fizz, stumble and get waylaid.
Of course you can do that at any point in life. I understand that. But if you’ve made it this far in one piece, then chances are you face some significant choices about how the rest of this ‘game’ plays out.
What does victory look like?
How do you ‘finish well’ from the third quarter?
I feel like unless we can answer that question we will inevitably fall prey to the seductions of this period of life. We will fizz, tank, flounder, but it will all happen with a veneer of ‘livin the life’.
What seductions do I see?
Entitlement is one of them. We speak of ‘entitlement’ being present in millenials as if it’s their issue, but its one of the most significant temptations I feel myself in this time. I’ve worked hard for a long time and I ought to be reaping some of the benefits of those hard years… It’s time to slow down and let someone else do the heavy lifting.
As we approach long service leave in April I have told people that I am ‘cruising to the finish line’. I want to get there in one piece, rather than stumbling past the tape and in need of an ambulance. There’s wisdom in that for sure. But I also sense the temptation to keep that stride from here on when I get back from leave – to make this the ‘new normal’.
It’s time to enjoy life before old age strikes and takes away energy, mobility and maybe even faculty. Those ‘adventure before dementia’ stickers on the back of caravans are only partly joking. The core assumption is that this short period of 10-20 years is our (third quarter people’s) last chance at a full life before the bleak fourth quarter takes the wind out of our sails.
I think I know what ‘finishing well’ look likes. I’ve seen some folks whose lives I would want to emulate (but not many of them if I’m hones)t. I’ve seen plenty I want to avoid turning into.
But I get the very strong sense that the choices I make now will either form the structure for a strong and beautiful final quarter, or will set the tone for a period of regret and disappointment.
I’m actually struggling to write this post because I am so enmeshed in the actual ‘third quarter’ experience. I want to disentangle and articulate it, but without a neat bow and ribbon to make it all ok.
So I’ll pause there and do some more pondering, before I write some waffly platitudes.
Anyone else resonate with being in the ‘third quarter’?
More to come when I can articulate it honestly…