It’s a beautiful night here – perfect spring night, really. Saturday night at that. I left my calendar open this weekend since my sister and brother-in-law were in town for my nephew’s graduation from Northwestern Law School (Yay, Owen!).
And I find I have a variation of what my friend Bill called “The Diane Syndrome” back when I was in my 20s. I would complain to Bill loudly that I had TOO MUCH TO DO! and would enumerate all that I had to do and then I’d nab a beer, put on my Koss headphones and probably Joni Mitchell on the turntable and then proceed to drink beer and play endless games of solitaire.
It made a bizarre kind of sense to my probably ADD ish brain – overwhelm, too many choices, I can’t cope, ah, there, have another beer….
Now fast forward a few decades. I’m past what the Hindus call the Student years and the Householder years and so life is quieter. But what I found tonight is that while there’s not a huge amount that I HAVE TO DO, there are still a lot of things I think I want to do. And when I get an unexpected night of solitude and quiet like this – and a beautiful night to boot – the choices once again seem a bit overwhelming. A glass of water replaced the bottle of beer and computerized mah jong has replaced card-based solitaire, but the same dynamic shows up.
I think part of it is perfectionism, too – well, yah I COULD organize my digital photos but I’d want to get them really looking good and orderly and oh, i’ll just play another round of mah jong. Yeah, I COULD call someone up and go out for coffee but then I’d feel guilty about all the people I should be queuing up for dinner and such and besides it’s Saturday night and I am just sure I am the only loser on the planet at home alone and shh! I’d better not let people know. And I COULD finish reading this phenomenal novel I’m reading. I COULD meditate (but since I did this morning I DO feel sort of ‘off the hook’ on that one). etc.
And truth to be told, I feel as though I ought to have some Grander Purpose, some sweeping task, some date with destiny.
One of the blessings of one’s 30s and 40s, though i must say it didn’t feel like it so much at the time, is that one is so overly busy during those householder years. I think any of us past those years who hears the country song in which a father of a harried daughter who now has kids of her own is telling said daughter “You’re gonna miss these years.” You do, you know.
Because when you’re building a career, a family, a home and a life you don’t have to think much about life purpose, why you’re here, what the hell you should be doing. You change the next diaper, go for the next promotion, mow the lawn. I remember being a veritable dervish of activity and falling into bed thoroughly spent and i have no children! I can only imagine what it’s like for working parents.
Now I have work that is enjoyable – but about which I’m not passionate. I have a house that, while it always seems to need some tweaking, is basically in order (and since I’ve been single I have no one stopping me from Getting Rid of Stuff, one of my midlife passions — and less stuff means easier to maintain). While I ardently wish Ms. Right would come along, I do have GREAT friends and family and a very active, fulfilling social life.
~~ Funny, as I’m writing this my wonderful neighbor came over and invited me for a campfire on this chilly spring night.
So maybe that’s the point, eh – you leave an open bough and the singing bird comes. It’s just having faith that the bird will alight.
What do you think? Grand purpose? Wait for life to unfold? Singing birds?