An Unscheduled Life

A long-time friend wrote to tell me she’s been enjoying my posts about my new house, and spoke with awe about the success of my new life. Then she said she was going to make attendance at community events in her area more of a priority. I had to laugh at this, because I am doing the opposite — making community events less of a priority.

When I moved here, I made a concerted effort to be . . . not me. At least, not my usual semi-hermit self. I knew I had to do something to keep my concern about stagnating from becoming a reality. To that end, I said yes to every invitation, took every opportunity to attend community events, joined every group that expressed an interest in me, even played games — a couple of times at the library, most often at the senior center. (If you knew how little I like games, except perhaps the solitaire kind that keeps my mind occupied while I think, you would understand how big a concession this was.)

In the last couple of months, things have changed. Or perhaps it is I who have changed, reverting to my stay-away-from-crowds inclination. (I do best one on one. Being with two or three is acceptable, especially if the others are congenial, but more than that tends to overwhelm me.)

Although I did set out to get involved, I never actually set out to get uninvolved. It just happened. Any time someone ignored me, asked for one thing more than I was willing to give, said something that hit me the wrong way (or even the right way), it stopped me cold, breaking whatever momentum of sociability I’d built up. None of these things were important. None of these things hurt beyond the moment. None of them were things I couldn’t have easily shrugged off. But all of them, in that stopped moment, made me wonder, “What the heck am I doing?”

And so, the life I had built for myself slowly disintegrated. Well, not my life — that’s still intact, along with all the friends I’ve made — but my scheduled life is disappearing. I’ll keep up with a few things — Art Guild, the strategic planning sessions, and maybe an occasional potluck or other activity, but everything else that’s been a regularly scheduled event seems to have been wiped from my calendar.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with this newly unscheduled life. Exercise more, eat better, and try to lose the weight I gained by going to all those community events, of course. Visits and excursions with friends, I hope. But beyond that, I don’t know. (I suppose it’s possible — vaguely possible — that I’ll start writing a new book.)

It seems fitting, in a way, that this change is taking place now. The first anniversary of when I bought my house is two weeks away. A lot has happened in the past year. I’m sure a lot more will happen in the coming months, though I don’t know — can’t know — what. More hermitting? More socializing? More scheduling? Walking back to functions I’ve walked away from?

Since I can’t even guess who or what I will be, how I will change, or how I will feel, I’ll just have to wait to see how the future unfolds and trust that it will be good for me.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Blog Stagnation

I seem to have fallen into a period of blog stagnation. Nothing to say, no noteworthy thoughts, no insights, no adventures. Every day I come here meaning to write something, and every day I end up doing other things. Playing solitaire, researching camping equipment, helping a friend set up the social networking sites for his business, sometimes even typing a bit of the book I started writing. (Just typing, you understand. Not writing anything new.)

I don’t seem to find myself smiling very often, either, and yet just a few weeks ago, I could feel the smile on my face whenever I set out into the woods. There was something so basic about walking among the trees that it felt mystical. Now? Not much of anything going on. It’s too hot to do much walking around here, and anyway, there’s no place interesting within walking distance. (It was less than a mile to the desert from my father’s house, which is why I became so familiar with the desert. If I had to drive, I’d never have bothered. And even if I wanted to drive somewhere interesting, I am still minus a car.) Even dance classes don’t fill me the way they used to, maybe because when the rest of my life was a mess, they provided an escape, and now that I don’t need that escape, well, let’s just say the not-always-pleasant interactions with others are harder to deal with.

(Yep, just got tired of sitting here trying to think of something to say, so I opened a spider solitaire game. I’m hopeless.)

I have a hunch malaise has settled on me because my whole life right now feels as if it’s at the mercy of other people. I can’t just work on those business sites and get the job done, I have to wait for him and the others involved to respond to my requests for the information I need. I can’t just drive to the store to get what I need because my car is still not finished. I could walk, of course, but there is the matter of heat.

Enough whining. I’ll get back to you when I have something more interesting to say.

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(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)