Transform from a body at rest into a body in motion.
Imagine a banquet table, round, eight feet across, ample seating for ten or twelve. An array, a menu of choices heaped upon the table. Not food, but aspects of my life. The one I want, for myself, for my family. The table must be steady. Six legs, each supporting a specific area or topic. Equal distribution of weight? Doubtful, but together, creating a balanced life.
Remnants of a ten-hour car ride. An assessment of my life. Where I’ve been, where I’m going. I need some structure rather than plan only a few hours ahead, never knowing what’s in store for me until I’ve already arrived. I hope to take a more active role in determining my actions and outcomes.
Parenting. My primary concern. Nothing is more important than this. We’re rounding the backstretch with Eli. A tenth grader. Sophomore. Second year. Make or break with remote learning, disease lingering in the corners of the room threatening once more to shut down the world. Sophie, she’s in a new race. At once alien and known. I’ve been there. Could it really change in only forty years? That, we need to figure out.
Marriage. Good. Great? It has been for twenty-three years, therefore it needs my attention. Do I do my share? More than my share? No way. Discussion topics, areas of interest we share, Susan is more likely to initiate a conversation and set the tone. I’m along for the ride. I defer the hard work and big decisions to her. She’s the organized thinker. I’m scatter-shot—diving into tasks only when they devolve into problems. Parenting, home projects, vacations, finances. I can be more of a partner. If I can’t plan, at least I can execute. I need to shake up my inertia. Transform from a body at rest into a body in motion.
Health. Thank god. An area where I have a head start. Years ago, I quit drinking. In February, I altered my diet. I’m already exercising four to five times per week. Historically (and right now) this gets more planning and attention than any other aspect of my life. It’s so measurable. Athletic performance, calories consumed, nutrients ingested, caffeine injected. Because it’s an interest area, a hobby, I keep poking at this trying to find the perfect combination of foods and activities in my quest to become better. More tweaking expected.
Home. Yes, the physical structure where I live, but also a catch-all for life-categories not collected in other buckets. Financial planning and retirement, house cleaning and upkeep, cars, pets, gardening, shopping, extended family relationships. Aargh! No wonder I’m overwhelmed. I can start by doing something about the ant-invasion that appeared over the past few days while we traveled.
Work. Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head. Found my way downstairs and drank a cup and looking up I noticed I was late. These Beatles lyrics sum up my work life clearly. My job tasks tend to be cyclical. A weekly schedule, a monthly schedule, an annual schedule. I’m only in my second year on this job. I need to steer away from settling into a formulaic approach. Treat each week, month and year as a new entity, one I’ve never seen before.
Writing. As my primary hobby, maybe sharing that top billing with exercise, this needs active attention. In her blog Bikes, Brains and Other Musings the other day, Crustytuna worried that her writing had stagnated into a simple weekly journal update. Blogging was, essentially, ruining her writing.
My comment: Blogging doesn’t need to be a journal-style life-update. It can be carefully wrought creative nonfiction vignettes, or short stories, or poems, opinion essays, or memoir… Quality writing and blogging aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, knowing you have a place to publish your writing can be a motivating factor in creating quality writing. This begs the question: Why give advice if I don’t take it myself. This post is as much a journal update as anything I’ve written. That’s wasn’t my intention. I wanted to write something big and beautiful. Perhaps I need to get this out of the way before I can dive into my creative projects.
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Reading back over this bit of writing, I realize I haven’t done anything except make a list of areas that need my focus. Goals, or really placeholders for goals. Eli’s new school year, Sophie moving to college, weather changes, these serve as a chapter-break. A chance to start a new story. The past eight months—with an unending laundry list of problems disrupting the United States—challenged me. I felt like a teenager dragging behind a car bumper on a snowy day (skitching), trying to keep my feet on the ground, afraid to let go—either way, sure to wipe out.
I realize this is the world I live in now. It’s time to restart my life with structure and intention. I’ve created a road map, or a manifesto, a guiding document. A master plan. It’s time to chisel away at my block of concrete and sculpt the life I hope to live.