Beginnings, middles and ends….they’re the milestones we navigate every day, in ways both large and small. Are you like me? The Muddling Middle is Maddening….even though I know I must traverse the sloppiness to get to the finish line. I know it, but that doesn’t mean I like it. Nope.
The Middle can be oh-so-messy. The voices that ask, ‘Are you sure?’ Or, as if they see the destination and have reconnaissance I lack, they whisper: ‘It’s not too late to turn back’. Having the confidence and poise to stay the course, while muddling in the Middle takes resolve.
And I’m not just mulling over the BIG DECISIONS in life. The biggies command our attention and one way or another, we decide with intention, or indifference as we choose to slow down, set sail or retreat.
But alongside the biggies sit the littles – the everyday events, tasks, conundrums, and relationships – that we massage and manage. Dutifully, we navigate the littles; the individual arcs, the blips and bumps, and hopefully triumphs, too. Such is life, the mundane and routine riding along with the blasted big stuff.
In the cycle of “BMEs” – beginnings, middles, and ends – I’m most often mired in the Middle because of my nature – I want to influence the unfolding with eyes planted on the destination. I know I’m not unique. The predictable outcomes, the ‘sure things’ give me peace but they’re harder and harder to come by as age and experience season us. We learn to prepare ourselves for disappointment.
All of this may sound a little sobering, but I’m in a pondering frame of mind for a reason. Someone I care about is laboring in the Middle right now and he’s hurting. His resources include patience, but it’s waning, along with his confidence. I’ve offered what guidance I can, as well as my shoulder to lean on, but I wish my shoulder was heftier, more formidable. I wish I could do more. I wish I could be a better champion and tease out a conclusion for him – an ending point – some sort of punctuation. I want to lighten the hold that his Middle malaise has on him. Provide relief.
The MIDDLE isn’t a villain, really and it doesn’t mean to conjure anxiety. It just does – as the holder of menacing ‘what ifs’. Those dreaded doubts. They create shadows masking the glimmers of hopeful light. Like summer fireflies, the glimmers ARE there – but harder to detect. Or is it the fear of having hope? If I greet this sweet elusive light, might it run from me and retreat into the shadows?
But move we must, and this is what I tell my friend. Don’t languish in the Middle. As the finish line and destination appear, remember that invariably, a new path, a fresh beginning is likely there as well. And he’s in charge. Want to loop back? Do it. Forge a trail that may be both new and unfamiliar? You can. Just remember to pack well, carrying more confidence than doubt and consider heeding the sweet advice from Tom Hiddleston:
“You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.”
One foot in front of the other, indeed.