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Trying to Have it Both Ways in Midlife

February 06, 2012   •   By Master Hobbit

Posted under: Mind, Lifestyle, Relationships


Trying to Have it Both Ways in Midlife

Midlife men, we probably can’t have it both ways. Let me explain.


I was watching an episode of NCIS this evening, one of my few weekly TV try-to-watch shows, ok, my only weekly try-to-watch show outside of the evening news. Anyhow, this particular show was a bit annoying in its format as it was moving Gibbs, the big cheese of an investigative unit, back and forth from the present to voices from the past, each voice mumbling some version of how the choices we make have implications into the future.


We’ve heard that drill before. You know the one, the leaf falls on the water and the ripples go forth and change the world in small and not-so-small ways – a sort of cosmic ‘butterfly effect’.


All that to say that there were a few lines that I thought were at least interesting, if not provocative. One such statement came out of a conversation with his ‘visit’ with his deceased daughter and wife who had been murdered years earlier, a loss he never quite got over.


He expressed his regret in not protecting her (his wife) from the violence they experienced and that if he had, he would have his daughter and her with him today. She told him that the loss allowed him to effect many other lives for good, far more than would have been the case had they lived.


And here’s the line. Gibbs said, “I wanted to have both.” And his wife said something to the effect, “It doesn’t work that way.”


What? Why doesn’t it work that way!? Why can’t I have both?


It’s like the proverbial phrase “Wanting our cake and eating it at the same time.” “You can’t have it both ways,” is another way of putting it.


You can’t have money and at the same time blow it on every little whim that comes your way, at least that is the case for most of us.


I’ve tended to be a person who seems to never just work my job and come home and relax and just be an average guy. It seems I’m always chasing something and can easily find I’m stretched thin and not doing many of the things I’ve gotten involved with very well in the end.


I find that these days, I am more aware of this impulse within myself, this tendency to chase multiple things at the same time. I finish or close down one thing and launch another. It’s gotten worse since I became single again. I gained more time to add on more things.


I’ve become even more thoughtful about this as I get closer to the day when I remarry. I look at all the things I’ve filled my life with and realize that some key activities have to be parked somewhere, even shut down, if I am to make room for this most important piece in my life.


But doing all that doesn’t change the tendency, the impulse, to pick up a new thing. Let me re-negotiate with Life.


“I want to have both,” I announce to Life. And Life says, “It doesn’t work that way…..”


“….but you’re free to keep trying.”

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About the Author: Master Hobbit

Master Hobbit is the creator of 4060men. After a marriage of over 30 years ended in divorce, he journeyed for over 5 years as a single midlife man. He remarried in 2012. He is also the owner of the blog platform,, and a blog platform review site,

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