There are many days like today when I think about what I should be doing, what I want to do, and if I want to do anything at all. The problem with doing nothing is that it gets a bit lonely — too much time to think about doing nothing. That may not make much sense to you, and you might think that I should get over myself and get on with a productive life, but it’s not that easy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that hard either! I have a lot of guilt when I hear how busy, stressed, overloaded, and overworked friends and relatives are. It makes me want to NOT blog about being alone, but something my sister-in-law, Jill, said recently in an email prompted me to write a bit about what it’s like to wake up alone, come home to an empty house (except the dog of course!), and not have structure to the day. (This sounds a lot more pitiful than it really is and my home is a lovely place to come back to!)
When I retired and moved, there were lots of comments and lots of advice — all very much appreciated and still good advice a year later. “What will you do?” “You will miss work.” “Find one thing each day to focus on,” said my cousin, Jill. I do NOT miss work, nor do I have too little to do — just not motivated to do it! And, cousin Jill’s advice is quite good — if there’s one event or task that needs attending to I can say I was productive! Today it’s probably going to be a few chores around the house and virtual book club tonight (thank goodness for that!). What I DO miss about work is that I didn’t have to think about the structure of my day. It was predetermined most days by the workday, teaching schedule, and meetings. It makes it easier to get going in the morning when you don’t have to think about it very much. That sounds so obvious, but it was a revelation for me to discover this. On the other hand, I am resisting the temptation to schedule my days with activities — don’t want that either. In reality I am very busy most of the time and am getting used to what I consider “down days.” By the time I take a long walk with Sydney my attitude improves (exercise research will back me up here) and I embrace the quiet and inconsequential decisions like whether to go to the dump, the grocery store; should I tend to the plants, cook something new, or clean up outside? All of these things need doing, so today’s focus is on how to rationalize doing nothing except sitting and reading a book. See? I told you that it would sound selfish to those who are so busy!
It takes a lot of thought to navigate a new life after so many years of predictability. Recently I learned how to create and send evites, discovered that Staples has the capacity of allowing me to go in with a flash drive and print directly to a self-serve copier. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? However, it gave me pleasure and will provide an opportunity to connect with old friends. I am planning a baby shower with Rachel’s friend Sasha and will spend a few days in Brooklyn later in the month. The opportunity is there for me to drive into the city and go to museums, shop, etc., if I want to, so I really don’t feel the least bit sorry for myself. I count my blessings each day — I am fortunate to have the quiet life that I yearned for when I left Tallahassee, am close to my family, and have friends who email and Skype regularly. But…sometimes another day in the woods leads me to thoughts of maybe there’s somewhere else I’d rather be. There isn’t any place else for me so each day like today I make the best of it — and that’s not bad!