When I stopped fighting the snakes with my freeze and my flight, they taught me. This isn’t a metaphor. I mean actual snakes.
When I didn’t prune the bushes, the birds came. Also not a metaphor.
Let what is coming come.
This thing of middle age, of being in the middle, is a prism that splits all thought and emotion into facets I couldn’t see until I shone light through it. I’m not sure whether or not that’s a metaphor because I was a poor student.
And I’m in the hamster bubble filled with the miasma of my buried middle school trauma and aging parents and puritanical shame and increasing hunger and I bounce up against you in the grocery store or in a virtual space (it’s virtually a space!) and you’re in your bubble and we’re both too polite to mention we’re floating around in our miasma and whatever assorted fluids we’ve accumulated over this life.
I would very much like to know who first called middle age a sandwich. Sandwiches are delightful. They’re straightforward: Put together a few things you like to eat, wrap some sort of edible container around them, experience satisfaction.
Middle age is no sandwich. Middle age is sedimentary rock cooked in the furnace of time and weather and motion. The fore generation is metamorphic, the core and foundation. The aft generation is igneous, lava newly birthed and hardening around my edges. And I can’t be certain — in part because I’m generally uncomfortable with certainty and in part because as noted before I was (am) a poor student and got this passing understanding of geology from a Science-for-Kids website — but it’s my understanding that each stratum evolves through the phases, propelled by other strata and (perhaps?) gravity (which, in the case of this metaphor if that’s what it is, might be time?). The metamorphic will become igneous and the igneous will shift to the sedimentary and that which was sedimentary will be compacted into the metamorphic and I believe that compacting begins with cleaning and sorting your parents’ belongings, sitting in a water-damaged basement deciding which of your grandmother’s typing certificates and grandfather’s letters to his postal workers’ union rep and mother’s letters home from college and father’s resumes from the ‘70s and your own flaking and musty preschool art and clear-eyed high school papers on world peace you will keep for your child to eventually weed through and which will be tossed into a landfill where they will enter another unending cycle of evolution.
Let what is coming come. Meet it when it arrives. Wave as it pulls away. And repeat.