Monday, November 2, 2009

beware, amateur philosophizing herein

So Halloween has come and gone, we've set our clocks back and the days are growing shorter. Time, once again, for me to examine my life and decide what to do with it. I guess that sounds a bit melodramatic, but making a living and living life in a seasonal town brings a person to extremes. One day you're racing around all stressed out because you're working 70 hours a week and the traffic is making you nuts, and the next day, almost literally, your job has ended and there's not a car on the street when you go out at 7 pm to pick up some milk. It's a crazy way to live. My friend Kristen had this Far Side cartoon on the fridge that depicted two goldfish standing beside their bowl, which was in flames. The caption read something like "Whew, glad we got out of there. Of course now we're equally screwed." It made her think of life in Bar Harbor, in the fire all summer, fish out of water come fall. (Later, when she was being treated for cancer, she pulled it out again because it seemed to her to apply to her chemotherapy treatment, too.) She had a great sense of humor. The cartoon, however, isn't so very far from the truth for some of us.

Over the years I have come to appreciate the natural break in my life, because it is impossible not to think about how I am living and what I might want to change when all of a sudden life as I have come to know it over the summer comes to a grinding halt. I haven't always managed to make the most of this introspective period, but I appreciate that it is there. I'm not sure how it is for you folks that have steadier jobs and a more even routine, because I have chosen to live this way my entire adult life. Does the shortening of the days make you think about your passing life? Does the return of the cold make you wonder if you are doing what you were meant to do? I know this sounds like the babbling of a recovering cancer patient, but honestly, I think about this stuff every year at this time. Perhaps not so earnestly as I am this year, though.

So, you might ask, do I have any answers? Well... no. Not exactly. I can identify a number of things that make me happy. But I have this nagging suspicion that I'm not doing something that I ought to do. Perhaps it's an unrealistic romantic notion, that each of us has a "calling." Most people I've talked to about this lately, all of whom happen to be around my age, think that doing things that make them happy and spending time with people that they love is enough. One friend sent me a lovely quote about finding yourself in the circumstances you are in and making something beautiful of it. I like the image of finding yourself in your circumstances, which to me implies that you can be right in the middle of them and not realize where you are. But what about the remarkable capacity that many of us have, in this time and this place, to change those circumstances? And what does it mean, to make something beautiful? Such different things to different people, and I guess I'm still casting about for my definition of "beautiful" in terms of the way I live my life.

I don't know. It seems that there must be a way to have fun and do the world some good while I'm at it. I've spent my life trying not to do any harm, but that doesn't seem like quite enough any more. What do you think?

On a lighter note, tonight I went out in public without a wig for the first time in almost four months. Okay, so it was under cover of darkness, and only to my knitting group, which is just one step away from being at home. But still. It's progress.

1 comment:

  1. I have those same thoughts about life and my place in it, every fall - and more intensely with each passing year. I fear this is called "midlife crisis".