A MIDLIFE CRISISBy Grandma Ellen
ife begins at forty, it is said. But when I turned forty, my life was falling apart. Or at least I felt as though it was. I was faced with an existential crisis: a search for the Meaning of Life with a capital “M” and a capital “L”. And I was searching outside myself.
To an outsider, my life might have appeared to be ideal. My husband and I had raised two fine children who were now away at college. I had a fascinating career as an editor at an educational laboratory, where I was engaged in the creation of a curriculum in aesthetic education. My colleagues were the most interesting and creative individuals I had ever had the privilege to work with. Together, we were engaged in bringing knowledge all across the arts to children all across the country.
When I wasn’t at work, playing the piano and performing in a music group took up some of my time. So did membership in a book club where we read and discussed classic and contemporary literature. A full life, indeed.
And yet…. And yet, my life seemed unfulfilled. I didn’t know what I was searching for. I just knew I had not found it. So I immersed myself in yet more activities: working on bond issues; serving on a school curriculum evaluation committee; helping to run community election campaigns; participating in the League of Women Voters.
And yet…. still no answers as to the Meaning of my Life. Clearly, I needed a new approach if all of this manic activity was still leaving me in the dark. And then a light went on in my mind! I was searching for my Life’s meaning in all the wrong places – outward, rather than deep within myself.
And when I looked inward, I realized that it was up to me to bring meaning to my life. Not a job and not avocations and not community activities.
And so my search ended, and I knew that I alone could make my life meaningful.My soul was at peace.
Ellen Baron is a wife, mother and grandmother who has had three distinctive careers:
1) as an editor at an educational laboratory;
2) as a businesswoman who ran a private-label group at Black & Decker, and then served as Director of Marketing for a consumer electronics start-up company; and
3) as an academic administrator who was director of a post-baccalaureate business program.
Her 'Just Jobs' (as opposed to "Careers") included piano teacher and French tutor (her undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis having been in French).
Now retired from both careers and jobs, Ellen serves on the Maryland State Attorney Grievance Commission, as well as the Boards of several non-profits. She has lived in England, Switzerland and Germany, as well as St. Louis, Boston, a suburb of Washington, D.C., and, now, Baltimore, MD.