Installment # 6 – February 19, 2023
Isn’t this an interesting development? I was really floundering. I didn’t know what to do with myself. The endless summer was becoming a string of infinite days that had no purpose, no end, no definitive form. As much as one thinks that the possibility of having nothing to do might be fun, or relaxing, It was becoming a bit maddening.
The same idea might apply to someone who could not die. Ever. Nothing could kill them (except perhaps a silver stake through the heart). It might be tiresome, especially if everyone around them eventually died. Life might tend to get boring, have little meaning, or maybe one would get tired of being the same person for eternity. This has never existed in real life, so far as we know, but each time it is explored in literature or film, the character(s) grapple with the everlasting life. I suppose, one might become comfortable with it eventually. Maybe, that is why everything perishes, or at least transforms into something else, someone else, or loses his/her memory of the past so that life can be fresh and new.
There is the concept that many people have who adhere to common religions. Life eternal. Everlasting life. Not here, obviously, but in the ‘afterlife’. Really? It would probably get just as boring.
I don’t want to sound as if I’m not grateful for this fabulous opportunity to do nothing. After all, I will not live forever, and so I understand that I can find things to do to fill my time on earth, and there is precious little of it left. So, why was I not forging ahead? Why was I feeling antsy?
I think those answers are obvious, but I don’t mean to be rude, so I will elaborate. I am a ‘doer’ by nature. I always have several fires in the iron. I always have a list, and projects on my list, that I am working on. And then, there’s the whole painful back issue. I was determined not to go anywhere (well, I couldn’t even drive for a few weeks) until I was whole again. Walking. Functional.
Anyway, here’s what is happening. For one thing, I am able to drive again – at least for about ½ hour. I haven’t tried to go any further yet. And I realized that as a social being, I needed to get out a bit. It is helping my psyche.
But here’s the other thing that’s happening. I am not necessarily wanting to go anywhere. Or really do much. It’s not that malaise or blue funk that I was in (okay, sometimes it is), but I’m actually getting used to doing things, including meditating, whenever I feel like it. I’m operating without a schedule. I’m rarely even looking at lists to figure out what to do next. I’m changing patterns, changing habits, just…changing. I am moving out of my comfort zones and rearranging my brain. And I’m starting to feel comfortable in this new space, this new way of being.
This is not to say that I was never able to just relax and do much of nothing, but those days were fewer and I had some sort of pattern set out for myself. For instance, if I happened to be home during my summer vacation, I would have coffee, read, go to the pool, and then work my list. Or go out to do something that I had scheduled. There were moments of spontaneity, of course, but the summers had an end date. I was living with limited time before the next wave of frenetic to-dos were about to begin. Work. Some play. Attempting to de-stress. Travel. Friends. The point is, my down time was…settling back down from being Up, On, always thinking, moving, doing. And now…everything is the opposite.
I’ve rarely been able to sit still. I’ve gotten much better at it the past few years, feeling the need to slow down. But, I’ve always been fidgety, always moving around, never comfortable, biting my nails, never comfortable in my own skin except in water.
I’m not shy, I don’t have negative body image. Actually, especially for my age, I’m looking pretty good overall. I never expected perfection, I always muted and turned away from commercials attempting to sell women a bag of goods to keep them wrinkle free, non-surgical face lifts, boatloads of makeup, moisturizers, and the lot. I’m not completely free of caring. I color my hair, but only about 3 X / year, but I’m thinking of letting that fall away; it’s becoming trendy to go gray anyway, and I only follow trends that are interesting to me. Typically, I’m not a follower, I’m a trendsetter. In short, I tend to do my own thing. And yes, I use moisturizer, but only when I remember. I use a tad of makeup so I don’t look dead, but that’s about it. I happen to like my body, I like my hair, I think I’m fairly attractive.
This has more to do with my internal energy. I’m working on taming it, much the way you tame a wild animal. It’s been untamed for many years, so now, I’m cracking the whip. No, I don’t like that imagery. I prefer to say…giving my body a reason to be still.
So, I think what’s happening here is that I’m getting comfortable not doing. Not getting in the car and going out. Just being comfortable here in my own body, in my own home, just letting the spirit move me to whatever feels right in the moment. Admittedly, it’s weird for me. Although, you might suppose from this monologue that I’ve been a structured person. I have friends like that. They go to the gym every morning, before work. They eat at the same time every day. And so forth. I am not like that. I have always struggled with structure. That’s why I must write down what my daily routine should be. That’s why I make lists. That’s why I was so good at school (I have 2 masters degrees, etc.), because the external structure gives me a framework in which to work, be creative, administer deadlines, which force me to produce, perform, and reach goals.
I’ve always been spontaneous. For instance, on my first date with my eventual husband, we were sitting in my house talking, and I saw the rain outside, and I stopped mid sentence and said, “I must go dance in the rain! Will you come with me?” He did not dance, but he did watch. I’m pretty sure that because I was the complement to his stoic nature, that was the attraction. And also, because I challenged him constantly.
So that’s what I mean, I am a planner, yes, but I can also be very much in the moment. Perhaps that is why I am getting comfortable with this unstructured life that I’m suddenly living. Because I really do love doing things on my own time frame. And by frame, I simply mean the outline of a day – of waking in the morning and sleeping at night. And even that is not a given. Sometimes, I wake in the middle of the night, spend a few hours doing things or meditating or whatever, and return to sleep for a full night’s sleep. Usually. I couldn’t do that when I was working. If anyone asked me what the worst part of working full time was, I’d have to say, needing to be somewhere in the morning. I never got enough sleep when I was working. Sometimes, I would take 15 minute naps when the students left the room for other classes. I’d pull out the desk draw, put my feet on it, close the lights, lock the door, and put a guided meditation on. When I had couches, I could stretch out. On occasion, I’d go to lunch in my car and take a nap there. Needless to say, it wasn’t quality sleep, but better than nothing.
I’m working on accepting, allowing, and detaching. Most of the time it’s quite liberating, but sometimes it’s tedious. That’s usually when I binge watch TV. And I’m not chastising myself (usually) for being a slug. I don’t even have to forgive myself. I know that tomorrow, or later, I’ll be productive. In the meantime, I have the luxury of relaxing. I now cherish that. Besides, film is an incredibly creative art form. So…there.