Learning How To Occupy Myself

One of the hardest things to accept after losing one’s life partner is that, no matter how unfair or unwelcome, life does go on. It’s been eighteen month since my life mate died, and here I still am. I always thought we’d go at the same time, that our connection was so great that the one who was left behind would be pulled into death along with the one who died. As romantic as that notion is, it didn’t happen (though the death rate for the remaining partner of a couple is exceptionally high, so I suppose, in some cases it does occur).

So much of these past months seem to have been wasted on grief, but now that I see light rising on the horizon, I realize these months were not a waste. In their own way, they were a celebration of life — both his and mine. I gave myself over to the experience, felt every nuance of his goneness, every tug of separation, every heartache and heartbreak. I gave myself over to tears, let them fall hotly and unchecked.

I felt, and in that feeling was life.

Ironically, another thing that is hard to accept after such a loss is the fact of your own mortality. When you accept that your partner is gone from this world forever, the realization that one day you will be also be dead hits you deep in your gut. I can feel the first (and second) twinges of age creeping up on me, but for now, I am still alive, still occupying this body/mind. It seems a waste of his life for me to waste what is left of mine, so I’ve been trying to occupy myself fully.

I dance in my room to celebrate this body, to feel movement and rhythm. I am writing nonsensical bits of prose — just random words, really — to celebrate this mind. I’m exercising so as to use my muscles, to celebrate that I have strength to lift more than a few pounds and to walk more than a couple of miles. I am celebrating the use of my hands, the way my feet connect to the ground, the pull of air into my lungs, the feel of the breeze on my face, the sights that pass in front of my eyes, the sounds of the city that assail my ears and the silence of the desert that brings respite. I am feeling the connectedness of things and people, both in the real world and the virtual world of the internet.

I am being, and being alive.

I am occupying myself.

Getting a Life

When I mentioned to a new acquaintance that I often walk two hours a day, she gave a snide little laugh and said, “You have no life.”

Getting a life seems to be a common concern in recent years, but what is a life? And where do you get one? Lifes R Us?

I don’t know how that odious terminology came into being or what it means. Often, especially in movies, “Getting a life,” refers to dating and looking for a mate, but since the woman who accused me of having no life had also recently lost her mate, that couldn’t be what she meant. Does having a life mean having a job? I’m in a transitional stage right now where I don’t have a job, and am not currently looking. And anyway, I’ve never found working for others to be particularly satisfying, so a job can’t be categorized as a “life.” Could “a life” refer to emotions, to feeling? Well, recently I’ve had enough emotions to fill an oil tanker, so that can’t be what she meant, either. Could “having a life” mean having fun? But that takes us into a whole other discussion: what is fun? Most of what people do for fun seems torturous to me, so I’ll stick to walking.

I’m only being a bit facetious here. The truth is, if you are alive, you have a life. It might not be satisfying — it might even be painful — but it is a life. Life is experiences, both good and bad. Life is waking and sleeping. Life is being with friends and being alone. Life is reading and writing. Life is eating and dieting. Life is success and failure. Life is tears and laughter. Life is everything we are and everything we wish to be. Life is. 

Get a life? I have a life. And so do you.