Third Act

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16

A few weeks ago, I started The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave, an intense drama about Hannah’s disappearing husband. That night, I shared with my husband how engrossed I became in the story. I attempted to finish it later that evening, but my melatonin-induced haze overtook me. So, I reluctantly closed the book. The next morning, Terry found an audio book, and within the same day had the audacity to finish the book before I did! With a smirk, he teased “the ending took me by surprise.” I begged him to give me a hint. Of course, he refused, this same scenario having played out many times in our marriage. That night, I fought the melatonin and found for myself the surprise ending.

The endings of movies, books, and TV shows can leave me feeling sad, satisfied, or surprised. Some tragic endings leave me in a puddle of tears or maybe a bit frustrated with the writer or producer. I sometimes feel satisfied with a tragic ending if the story overall was heartwarming and complete. And some endings take me by surprise, with my heart racing as fast as the words across the page. But no matter what emotions the story elicits, a good ending should wrap up the story, bringing the disparate pieces together. And then I can close the book, breathing a sigh of satisfaction.

It’s my birthday this week. Last year was celebrated with confetti, streamers, and a party. This year, we will be in Rhode Island to celebrate a plethora of birthdays along with baby Eva’s dedication. With all my immediate family, and a visit to Groundswell (my favorite Rhode Island bakery), I find this quieter celebration a perfect way to mark turning 51.

Four years ago, I started writing this blog during what might be defined as a mini mid-life crisis. I felt a little displaced, having ended my role as a home educator and launched my children into adulthood. I was no longer a young married woman but was well on my way into the second half of my marriage. I started to address some of my health concerns, and although my body felt the strongest it had in a long time, visible lines etched my face. I wrote to share with others my struggles in adapting to this new phase of life. And through words, I began to find my place.

Around the same time, I discovered the world of podcasts. Podcasts help me think, explore, and write about my world. They open me up to new ideas, new interests, and add books to my TBR list. The list of podcasts I listen to is wide and varied. Some, like Confronting Christianity and the BEMA podcast align themselves with my Christian worldview, examining faith and how it informs our world. Cherry Bombe and Ruthie’s Table are related to food and women in the food industry. I listen to some podcasts that are book related and others that explore nature.

A month ago, as I was mowing my lawn, in my peripheral vision, I noticed a hole in the ground that looked like it was moving. I abhor anything rodent-related and was convinced that a bunch of moles would run out of the hole and chase me because I had disturbed their slumber. I quickly found my husband, informing him of my fear. He went out with me, and after a closer inspection, we saw a baby bunny meander out of the hole. It ambled over to the uncut grass, munching on clover. With the sun already setting, we decided to stop mowing to prevent any baby bunny mishaps. The next day, I finished mowing only to discover a few more holes in my yard. Apparently, this bunny and his relatives have decided to create a bunny warren under my lawn.

Just like the rabbit trails in my yard, my podcasts often lead me to discover other podcasts. Last week, I started listening to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Wiser Than Me podcast. As a sixty-two-year-old woman, she interviews older women to tap into to their wisdom. This newest podcast has had me laughing out loud while taking notes and pondering new ways of looking at the world. Her first interview was with Jane Fonda. At age 85, Fonda is still acting in both movies and a hit TV show. Additionally, she still takes her role as an activist very seriously. In this interview, she talked about being in her third and final act, where she wants to continue to live her life to the fullest. At the same time, she wants to end well by making sure she cleans up her messes. This included apologizing to her children for not being a great mom. Despite all her accomplishments, Fonda believes that the third act might be the most important in her life.

I really hope I live to be at least 90 years old. But if I look at life expectancy for the average woman, I am technically in my second act, fast approaching my third. And, like Jane Fonda, I want to be mindful of how I finish.

At fifty-one, I am no longer in a mid-life crisis. Instead, I am more confident in who I am and who I want to be. I no longer expend energy striving to be a good Christian, checking the boxes of my to-do list for gaining approval. Instead, I spend time with Jesus through prayer, worship, and His word. This leads me to a greater understanding of His character, including His mercy and grace. I have embraced my sense of curiosity, which not only leads me to interesting podcasts, but to a more well-rounded view of life. Finally, I keep cleaning up the messes I have made as a wife, sister, daughter, mother, and friend. This looks like honesty, apologies, and ownership. And, like Fonda, I want to live my life to the fullest, embracing opportunities to connect with those I love. I am not looking for a surprise ending or one that is tragic, but instead one that is complete.

*Just a friendly note, Wiser Than Me may be a little salty for some of my readers. Personally, I am choosing not to stay in my own lane with podcasts so that I don’t’ live my life in an echo chamber. This may or may not be a podcast for you.