Monday, November 13, 2006

What Next?

This is Jack, posing for the built-in camera on my computer. Note the scar and glasses. He thinks he is Harry Potter.

Right now, Jack is in bed, reading aloud to himself. I am listening to him on the monitor from my office, finishing a glass of red wine, thinking (in vain) of things to write and feeling midly relieved to be alone. I feel a bit guilty that I am not watching Bill Maher with my husband, but I just don't have the energy for listening to people rant about their political views, even if it is funny. I don't know what is wrong with me, but I'm in a bit of a funk. Nothing too serious, just an underwhelming sense of BLAH. I've noticed this mood is seasonal since we have lived in Indiana. The late fall and winter here is overwhelmingly gray and I think it affects me slightly. Or, it could just be my midlife crisis. Only, I am too medium in mood to experience it as a crisis.

I was thinking as I was driving to writing class yesterday morning about how life is a series of things that you look forward to getting or achieving. When you are young, they are smaller things - like what Santa will bring, a band concert, the school play, tests, summer vacation, homecoming weekend, the prom, graduation. Then, you look forward to college. Then, getting a job or getting into graduate school. Then, marriage. Then, kids. Then, you give up your career (in my case) and pretty much your whole self to raise the kids. Then, your kids grow up, or grow up enough not to need you 24/7, and there you are. Or, more to the I am. I gave up my career - gladly, I should add - to parent Kate, Meg and Jack at a time when it was imperative that someone was at home. I think that I knew at the time I wouldn't go back. I spent many years completely absorbed in being a mom. But, now the girls are grown and gone and Jack is at school full time. Yes, he is only six, but the dynamic is completely different.

Lately, I find myself thinking, Now what? I had this pipe-dream for awhile that I was going to pursue some kind of writing career but I've come to my senses. I still may submit stuff for publication from time to time, but the fantasy about writing a book or being some sort of success as an author has ended for me. And this, to be quite honest, has left a void. A void that seems to need filling. Filling with ideas and ambitions (or salty snacks such as Doritos, but that's a topic for another time). Unfortunately, I have no ideas or ambitions at the moment.

So, this leaves me living what my friend calls the quiet life. And, most of me is okay with that. But, there is a part of me that nags at should be doing something. Something important or at least something that looks important. What I am doing is keeping house, doing (lots of) laundry, cooking (I made the best vegetarian chili EVER tonight, by the way), taking out the trash, putting polish on my nails, getting my legs waxed, letting my hair grow in gray rather than coloring it, baking brownies - 460 in all - for a benefit for Jack's school, planning Thanksgiving dinner, eating too much, shopping for Lego Star Wars items on Ebay on Santa's behalf and thinking about how to decorate this house if we end up staying here. Oh, and I am reading Clarissa, which is no small task. And, I think about what I should be doing. I contemplate getting a graduate degree. But, in what? I think about getting a job and then I immediately decide against it. I can't think of anything I really want to do.

If these sound like the ramblings of a priveledged woman, it is because they are. That isn't lost on me. And, I might add, I am grateful every single day of my life for this freedom. I am not complaining about my lot in life. I really have nothing to complain about. And, I'm not bored. I just don't know what my next thing is going to be. Or, if I need to have a next thing at all. Maybe one of the gifts of getting older is to be okay with either alternative...having a next thing or not.

I do know this much. My next thing for this evening is to transfer a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer, wash my face and brush my teeth and get into bed and read Clarissa.


Perk said...

These days, I often think that being consumed by something "vital" is the province of the young and/or the single. One way to assuage the guilt(or at least it's guilt for me)is to see yourself as being in a long-term process that gains merit as it progresses. I was naive(or stupid)enough at 25 to actually say I would quit my life's calling if I didn't "make it" in 5 years.

Of course, it's possible that any of us could drop dead tomorrow but right now I'm hoping for long life so I can finish what I started.

BloomingtonGirl said...

Well said. What is true for me is that the definition of "making it" is so different at 44 than it was at 25.
In fact, at 44, I am not sure I even have a definition of it anymore.

To our very long lives...

Dick said...