Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fun on the Horizon

I am putting myself on a schedule for fun. I've not been having enough new experiences lately - enough pleasant surprises - enough newness coming into my life. So, I'm putting myself on a schedule to do something creative, interesting, new, different, etc. every day. And, once a week I'm taking at least an hour to devote to a "filling the well" activity a la Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way." I feel depleted and I need to fix that. Immediately.

The past 18 months have been difficult for my family. I do not regret a single moment I spent travelling to and from Kentucky to see Jim and the rest of the family. In some ways it seems like I'm a horrible person to be thinking about fun when losing my brother is so recent. However, my mother's words still ring in my ears - "Life is for the living." And that's exactly what it is about. Each year I make it a point to honor my mother on the anniversary of her death by doing something I love, because she taught me to do the things that make me happy.

I have no doubt that Jim, if he were here, would strongly encourage me having fun. Obviously, any event you undertake after losing a loved one is tinged with sadness, but we must move forward. Well, I must, anyway. Otherwise I sink into depression and it's hard to dig out of that hole once you're in it. Best to skirt the edge of it and avoid going there if at all possible. And it is possible for me. I need to schedule myself - keep on a pace of accomplishing things and I need to inject happiness into my life. So, that's what I do.

Today I've been working on packing away Christmas stuff. I've got 95% of it stored away. I'll try to finish tomorrow night after work. I've made a whole bunch of trips up and down the basement steps, as well as a few trips out to the shed to take the tree out. Now I have a lot of cleaning up to do - a whole lot. I never washed all the cloth I used in our window display downtown and I need to do all that. There are also lots of icicles and broken bits of ornaments to sweep up and get rid of. And, there are all the daily things I've just not felt like doing - from dealing with the piles of mail to cleaning the kitchen.

I've not been off my property today - not out of the house other than to go to the shed. Greg popped in to grab something but other than that I've not even talked to anyone today. I'm just not in a very social mood - I know that's just part of the sadness at losing Jim. But, I'm going to have to snap out of it. Otherwise, this will turn into an ugly downward spiral.

I'm not a big complainer. As a result, people often think I am much more "together" than I really am. It's like Jeanette Walls said last year - I'm a pragmatist - there's not much point in complaining or being angry or getting overly dramatic - you just get on with life because you have no other choice.

The fact that I don't complain much means people also take me for granted a lot. Just because I do things without complaint doesn't mean they're no big deal or easy. I work for a living just like everyone else. In fact, at times I'm working far more than 40 hours a week. But, because I make time to invite people over, write notes, paint in the studio, travel, or whatever it may be, people brush it off as if it's obviously very easy for me.

It's no easier for me to have people over than it is for anyone else. It takes me just as much time to pick up the house, bake a cake, wash the dishes I'm going to serve out of, make tea, or whatever I'm doing. I'm not living in an alternate universe where that doesn't take time and energy. But because I never complain about it, people take it for granted. It's nice to be appreciated, which also happens.

Those things are also part of what makes a social experience out of our society - something we know people need. So, it seems incumbent on all of us to do our part in this regard. I feel like I'm doing my fair share. But this year I'm going to be more judicious in what I offer to host. I sometimes host events because I know people would miss them if they didn't exist and no one else is stepping up to do it. So, I do them - and I enjoy them - but it takes time and energy I could be devoting to something else.

Admittedly, I am blessed to have a job that goes in cycles - sometimes I'm very busy and sometimes I'm not so frantic. However, there are stresses to my job that - because I don't complain about - people never consider.

I want to find more time for wonder in daily life. I need to marvel at newness. I need to feel a thrill of discovery. I need to devote myself to appreciating the magic of daily living. Some experts say we have about 60,000 thoughts a day. Unfortunately, about 95% of them are the same ones we had yesterday.

I need new thoughts. One of the ways I have those is with travel and other new experiences. Other ways are reading, talking to thoughtful people, and spending time in meditation.

Two years ago at this time I was in Florida at a conference hearing some interesting speakers, so that was new information. And it was a pretty place to be.

Last year at this time I was on a trip to Texas, and had spent the day at an art exhibit that featured Candy Darling, among other things.

I've been spending some time in the studio lately, which also makes me feel better. And I've been writing quite a bit - on a novel, and in my journals. Last night I made it a point to go pull a book off the shelves that is one of those "I've always meant to read..." ones lying around, and read a few pages of that before bed. That's a great thing about books - you can get new thoughts into your brain, direct out of someone else's brain.

Speaking of reading... I ran across this poem, "When Death Comes," by Mary Oliver that seems appropriate in regard to these thoughts.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
----Mary Oliver

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