Overcoming Inertia

You’d think, after all these years of doing things by myself, I wouldn’t have a problem with motivating myself, but I do. Ever since Jeff died, I’ve tried to be more spontaneous, but sometimes I simply cannot overcome inertia to just . . . go.

The Union Pacific Big Boy steam engine passed within seventy-five miles of here, and I sort of wanted to see it. But the time for leaving came, and I didn’t go. Apparently, “sort of wanting” is not enough motivation. If I had really, really wanted to see it, I might have gone — after all, I did go searching (in vain) for tarantulas. But maybe not. My days of simply hopping into my car and taking off seem to be diminishing — not just because of no motivation, but because the thought of pulling the cover off my vintage Beetle and folding it up seems too much of a big deal. Also, because I’m not driving all the time, I tend to worry.

Luckily, I can walk most places around here and save driving for the days when the ritual of uncovering and recovering my car doesn’t seem so daunting or if I simply want to drive, worry or no. It might be easier to go somewhere on a whim when (if?) my garage is done, but I doubt it. I won’t have to uncover the car (though a neighbor car guy recommends still covering it), but I will have to unlock and open the garage door and gates, then get out of the car and close them once I’m on the street. Just the thought makes me weary! It’s not an immediate problem, though, since my contractor has disappeared on me again.

Now that it’s getting dark so early, my activities are a bit curtailed — I’m not used to walking in the dark around here, and to be honest, I’m not sure it’s all that safe of a place to be on foot at night — so I don’t attend evening events by myself.

Although all this makes it seem as if I don’t do much anymore, that’s not true. There are many scheduled events I attend during the day, such as the art guild meetings. The meetings are on my calendar, so there’s no need to overcome inertia — I just go. Other times, I hitch a ride with a friend. For example, there was a community dinner last night, and a friend invited me to go with her. It was a wonderful meal, a full turkey dinner, though it amused me — there I was in a Baptist church, eating dinner with my friend and the Presbyterian minister. Only in a small town . . .)

And that won’t be my only Thanksgiving dinner. The senior center will be hosting a potluck dinner for all of us strays. They will provide the turkey; we will provide everything else. (My contribution will be my own creation — a cranberry/apple compote.) Although Thanksgiving as a holiday doesn’t hold the emotional hazards for me that it does for many who have lost their mates, it’s nice knowing I’ll won’t be missing out on anything (except maybe the contention that sometimes come with family get-togethers).

The dinner is already scheduled and circled on my calendar. I’m committed to bringing the compote, It’s during the day. And I can walk. So there won’t be any inertia to overcome.

But it’s not exactly spontaneous, either.

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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.

From a Junker to a Gem

Four years ago today, I picked up my newly restored VW bug. Painted, polished hubcaps, new dual exhaust pipes, new headliner, new upholstery, new seals on the windows and doors. So much had been done, I barely recognized my old rattletrap.

I just stared at the car. It looked so pristine, it seemed to have crept out of a time machine from the 1970s into the here. And yet it was still my vehicle, the only one I had ever owned.

For a long time, I was afraid of driving the vehicle, worried I would ding it or that it would fade in the sun or that something would happen to it.

Well, something did happen to it . . . four years.

Despite the years, it still looks awesome, though not quite as new and shiny as it did four years ago. There are chips in the paint from gravel on the road during my many trips, a ding from when someone’s car door slammed into my fender, a small area that got discolored from gas drippage, rust on the tailpipes. And it needs a bath. And tires.

But it still makes me happy to see it. It still makes others happy to see it.

I remember when I was trying to decide if I wanted to buy a new car (mine seemed like such a junker), my mechanic told me that if I bought a new car, in five years, it would be a piece of junk, but if I put that same money into my car, in five years, the bug would be a little gem. I was still on the fence until the appraiser, who came to look at my father’s house when we placed it on the market, said the same thing, in almost the same words.

So I made the appointment to have the car de-rusted and painted. It was supposed to take three weeks, but it took six months. As frustrating as those six months were, in retrospect, they were wonderful months since I spent some of those months with a dear friend. Not only did we have a great visit, but she would drop me off at the beginning of a hiking trail in the Redwood Forest or along the Pacific Ocean, and then pick me up at the end of the trail. A truly halcyon time.

Whether my bug is a gem or not, it’s still going. Luckily, I’ve found a mechanic who loves working on my car. (Compared to modern cars, it’s simple and easy to work on — if you know what you’re doing.)

Soon, perhaps, I will have a garage worthy of the car. Well, I do have a garage, but it needs a new foundation, a new floor, and new paint.

I’m looking forward to that! After all the years of service, my lovely little bug deserves a good place to rest when it’s not in use.

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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.