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Enjoy the middle

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In its most simple form, life is composed of beginnings, middles and endings. 

Often much of our focus is on the beginning and endings. They are exciting. They are newness and the shredding of the old. They are the adrenaline rush of life. 

We look forward to our first day on the job. We wait for the last day of school. We anticipate the birth of a baby, or the time when the children have left the nest. We plan for retirement or a new vacation home. Beginnings and endings – they make up the exhilarating mile-markers of life.

But as life-changing as those beginnings and endings can be, they don’t encompass the essence or majority of life. That, my friends is the prerogative of the middle.

In the excitement of beginnings and endings, I suggest, I implore you, to enjoy the middle.

Your first day of kindergarten. Graduation from high school. Much attention is placed on these occasions, but what about everything in between? The routine band field trip when you sit next to a flute player, who later becomes a best friend. Riding the activity bus home on a regular Thursday and your future husband takes the seat next to you and you immediately strike up a conversation littered with laughter.

Enjoy the middle.

Your wedding day was the beginning of your life together. You planned each moment in detail, so it could be the peak of perfection. But, at its very best, it encompasses only 24 hours. 

The wedding is followed by lean hamburger years of working long hours and sticking to a budget because it’s what you had to do to get by and get ahead. The wedding was but the beginning. The days that followed were life. Going to bed, together, each night, saying “I love you,” and knowing despite the budget (or lack thereof) things would be okay because your love was okay and that made everything better than okay. 

Welcome to the middle.

As life marches on, we measure it by milestones. Certain anniversaries or high school reunions, or the birthdays of your children. Big things. Exciting events.

But just as important is the mundane. A lost tooth. Sunday breakfast together. A regular Thursday doing homework at the kitchen table. Mismatched socks. Dirty laundry. Someone forgetting to flush the toilet (again). Dog farts.

Making a bag lunch for the sixth grade field trip at 10 p.m. when you’d rather be in bed, but parenting is parenting (sigh). Ironing your son’s shirt for his first job interview. Teaching said son how to iron so he can do the job himself the next time. Dinner together. Family game night. Sunday funday. Saying “good morning, how did you sleep?”

Laughter shared in the comfort of home. Silly family traditions. All the things that make a normal life good. They aren’t necessarily exciting or new. They are part of the ordinary regular day. But they are magic, if you let them be. 

Let the middle be magic.

Quite often we look forward or backward to the big events of life. In the meantime, we overlook the everyday, mundane and humdrum. But when all is said and done, when life is nearing an end, it’s not the beginnings or the endings we’ll look back upon fondly. It’s the middle. 

Enjoy the middle. 

No, do better than that. Cherish it.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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