Sorting yourself out takes lots of time. I’ve been working on myself since I was a kid and what I know with certainty is that I’ll never be done. The only way I’ll be finished is if I’m static or dead. And I have a real problem with being static. When I feel myself getting stuck, it’s not long before I feel an irrepressible urge to move, sometimes emotionally, sometimes mentally, sometimes physically or all the ways simultaneously. Inertia is dangerous for me. Lazy patterns have an insidious way of becoming habitual quickly. Waiting for an external push to dispense with those habits can lead to getting trapped in a negative space. For me, asserting myself against that trap is essential.
The pandemic has been a serious challenge to my preferred approach of bursting out of the wheelspinning-stuck-in-the-mud pattern which can sneak up on me. Hampered first by social distancing constraints, and then by the subsequent caution incumbent on those of us trying to be careful, I realized that I was thrown off the track I’d started down after Michael died. He and I used to have long talks about life goals and the significant difference between what we need and what we want. We were well-suited in recognizing that our needs were essentially simple. Wants were a different matter. One of my most repeated lines to him was this one: “I don’t need ya, but I want ya.” That is as true today as it always was. But right now while my basic needs are certainly met, I’ve developed a case of the wants. I can’t get what I most want, which of course is more time with Michael. Absent that denied pleasure, I’m trying to worm my way around these conditions that have derailed me from the path that I was following before March, 2020.
I’ve been weighing the risk/reward balance about traveling during this uncertain time, landing on the side of taking my chances with travel. Although I have anxiety about the demands of an activity-packed concentrated week of constant movement, I’m back to checking out the places I’ve always wanted to see. Going abroad is problematic but there are plenty of destinations to visit in this country. I am headed to Yellowstone National Park in a few days. My golden years aren’t exactly what I’d hoped for but I promised myself that I’d live out some of the dreams Michael and I spun together. The national parks were high on our list. Living the rest of my active life years locked in the house doesn’t suit me. So I’m going to manage the risks of breakthrough Covid infection because I want to keep going on that deferred path. One day I won’t be able to make the trip. But that’s not today.
I want to complete the family history I began which starts from my early life in the 1950’s, continues through the 1970’s when Michael and I began our relationship, and is complete through 1982. I’m about to begin the year 1983, not yet half-way through my life. I still have so many memories to share, the record of my family’s history which will one day be passed along to people I haven’t met. That’s a big want, to finish this chronicle before the memories leave this world with me. The requirements of my days often keep me from writing. I’m wanting to get better at ignoring dust.
I want to continue expanding the list of songs that have a woman’s name in the title, a project that Michael dearly wanted to tackle. The rule is that I have to remember the songs myself or that I hear them in the course of my day. No cheating or looking at other lists compiled by anyone else.
I want to strike the balance between keeping up with current films while going back to watch ones I really loved a long time ago. I believe it’s possible to be present while still enjoying what’s past. I feel the same way about books. Going back to revisit what you loved provides insight into how you got to where you are. I suppose that ultimately I’m trying to straddle time. A tall order to be sure, but it’s what I want now. All those things I consumed made me who I am. I want to remember all the turns in my road.
I want to keep developing my garden and the habitat I’ve created for the birds and the pollinators. I want to keep eating fresh, unadulterated fruits, vegetables and herbs from my own dirt. Wresting back some control from the blight of climate change while I’m able is a small victory, a small difference in a time when it’s hard to figure out how to have an impact on the big issues of our time.
I want to allow myself the indulgence of taking breaks from the overwhelming news cycle. I’m saturated with the negative trends that have prevailed during the past eighteen months, exacerbated by the free time I’ve had to focus on them. I want to let myself drift into irrelevant fictional worlds for awhile. I’m looking forward to season 6 of Outlander. Time travel. Kilts. Steamy romance. Why not? I want to go easier on myself without feeling guilty.
I want to learn more about butterflies and moths. I want to collect more rocks and shells so I can turn them into garden decorations. I want to learn more about art and to increase the breadth of my music knowledge. I want to play more Scrabble games. I want to get all my photos in order and to forgive myself when I get so distracted by a picture of Michael that I stare at it for half an hour and forget entirely about getting anything in order.
I don’t want much in the way of material things any more. I have more than I need. At some point, some of the things that populate my living space will wear out or break and will require replacement. I’m not exactly sure when I got done with stuff. Every now and then, I see a piece of art that I’ll covet and accumulating books remains a problem. Aside from those things, I have little to no interest. At some point, I simply moved on. Fifteen years ago, Michael replaced my engagement ring. I remember telling him that it was the last ring I’d ever want. I’m not sure he believed me. I was telling the truth although I hadn’t given it any thought when the words came out of my mouth. I don’t want any more rings. Maybe my wants are different because of where I am in my life. I guess I’ve joined the generation which chooses life experiences rather than things. Who knows? I think maybe my wants and needs are the same now. Life is an ongoing process. I suppose if something changes, I’ll be moving into a new phase. Stay tuned.