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Midlife Lessons from Lucy Jordan

May 18, 2009

I heard a song today that I’ve not heard for ages. It was one of those songs that you think you ‘know’ but suddenly gain a whole new understanding of when you really listen to the lyrics. It was the song by Marianne Faithfull called ‘The Ballad of Lucy Jordan.’

You probably know it – it’s a heartbreaking glimpse into a woman’s life as she watches her dreams of fulfilment becoming more and more distant and her despair leads her to take her own life, or suffer a complete breakdown…. the exact meaning of the lyrics are open to interpretation but either way, it’s not exactly a sing-a-long-happy-ending type song!

The lyrics, together with Marianne Faithfull’s voice, expose the woman’s palpable feeling of regret for things that were now ‘too late’.

“At the age of thirty-seven
she realised she’d never
ride through Paris in a sports car
with the warm wind in her hair”

It made me think how we, as midlife women, can learn quite a lot from Lucy Jordan. (You may or may not regard thirty -seven as midlife but the sentiments of regret are certainly emotions that feature strongly in this life stage.)

Here’s my learning….

• Closing off or denying the part of you that wants something else is not a good option! We are better served by using the ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ as a way to explore our future options.

• It may well be a cliché but life is not a dress rehearsal. THIS life is the only one we’ve got.

• We are more likely to regret the things we didn’t do rather than those we took a chance on.

• Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

• The unsettling feelings that surface in midlife remind us that we have options – we can go through life just wishing or we can do something about it. We have a choice.

• If you really feel guided to do something, don’t ignore it.

It’s too late for Lucy Jordan but not for us.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 19, 2009 1:11 pm

    Great thoughts. The complication is when our realizations lead us to not only make changes in our life, but have full impact on our closest ones lives as well. I have had an amazing few years of self-realization, but am stumped at the point of needing others to be on that journey too or leave them to themselves. Just goes against too much that I believed in. I am being patient with the process and trying to live in the moment-but knowing the clock is ticking!
    Thanks Karen!

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