Day one of my no reading/digital media challenge, otherwise known as reading deprivation week, found me up in our loft determined to clear away the clutter that has been building over the years. This is mostly clutter of a personal nature: photos, books, cd’s and cards we’ve received through the years. After I cleared a path, I filled the top of the table space with every loose picture we have. These spanned from when I was young through high school, college, post-college, pre-husband, dating, wedding, honeymoon, baby, holidays, vacations. So many pictures.
Can you go a week without reading? Anything? Books, blogs, social media, newspapers, online content, cereal boxes. If you are anything like me (and I suspect you are due to reading this blog post) going a week without ingesting other people’s words sounds like a hellish kind of existence. From the time I could read, which was second grade back in the day, I have never gone any length of time without reading something. And yes, I was a big consumer of the words written on cereal boxes in my younger years because what else would you do over breakfast?
Parenting is hard work,
so they say.
Holding a sleeping baby. Easy. Beautiful.
But the years unfold at a pace
too fast and I can’t keep up.
The boy is hungrier for
independence with each new year.
Our silly chats lose their rhythm
and my joyful morning boy disappears with
Mornings have sharper edges now
and I’m made to grow a thicker skin.
The car rides, silent, as
I adjust to you and the new tempo
of our days.
But there are glimpses still, of this boy.
Funny, smart and kind.
Parenting is hard work,
they do say.
I am learning from it, though.
“Are you a witch?” This was the question posed five minutes into the first of one of my many internet organized blind dates. Without much of a pause I answered, yes, thinking my sense of humor was being vetted by the bespectacled man across from me. I laughed nervously before noting his face was serious. “Wow, you’re a Wiccan!” he exclaimed. What the hell is a Wiccan? The year was 1997 and I was barely into my 30’s, still very much the naive girl who grew up in rural small town America. Internet dating was in its infancy, a veritable wild, wild west of electronic relationship interaction.
A father, not mine, dying at 2 a.m., his children surround his hospital bed and he makes it through the night. At work I am tired and hungry, fasting bloodwork for an afternoon appointment where I’m admonished for letting my inhaler prescription lapse as she observes my shallow breathing. Go to the pharmacy now, exclaims my doctor. There is no parking and I pull on the curb illegally to run in for the quick errand but the line is deep and I worry about a parking ticket as the clock ticks. But a ticket does not await me – instead a flat tire – punctured by the curb and my hasty parking. I fret about being away from work so long and yearn for my waiting bed. I pull around the corner of the busy street and call the boyfriend whose father kept us up into the early morning but he cannot help me, too busy with work where he is self employed. I can do this. Our 8th grade gym/science/health teacher taught us and I find the jack nested, but unmoveable and I go to the glove compartment for the manual and as I’m passing by a sewer grate my heavy keys slip and glide cleanly through the slat.
I never realized just how social eating out is until it was just me.
On my own.
Other diners came in pairs and threes and more.
I sat among them, conversations floating
… a woman venting
… a man joking
… a son listening to his elderly mom
Did it feel like I was with everyone or no one?
I was with myself.
On my own.
Sometimes I think of life as a sandwich with three layers. The bottom piece of bread is where you don’t want to do anything. Energy is lagging, you might be feeling like a cold is coming or you feel like getting through each day is enough of a struggle without trying to do much more than sustain yourself and family. You feel weighed down by the rest of the sandwich. The top layer of bread is where you are sitting above the fray. Energy is high. Things get done. And there’s not a lot of work involved. The middle is messy. It’s where you push yourself a little more. You don’t just show up to life but participate in it, making decisions, making an effort, letting yourself shine through your actions.
Until this week, I have never written a formal bucket list. Things would bounce around in my mind through the years and if I did them I would mentally tick them off. Skydiving. Check. Zip line over a rainforest. Check. See the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Check. I even got to see a parade for a dead member of the royal family. That was not on my list but we happened to be in London when Queen Elizabeth’s mother died in 2002.
I’ve been at blogging for nearly 4 years now and as I mentioned at the end of my thirty days of blogging in September, I’m considering a need to do something else. These days I’m spending more and more time reflecting on what the future holds for my writing. To be honest I am full on fearful to do anything more than this. I will be a complete failure at trying to write a full blown book. It’s too scary. I’m not creative enough. I’m too old.
If you know anything about decluttering, it might be that it is not easy and it’s not for wafflers. There are many, many sources of information to guide you through, whether you go with Marie Kondo (I’ve read the books The Life Changing Magic and Spark Joy), Swedish Death (I’ve not read this one) or watch videos by the innumerable guru’s on YouTube (done this too). One method that’s recommended over and over is that you should tackle room by room or category by category. I’m throwing caution to the wind and going with my own method which is randomly picking an area and tossing anything that looks like it hasn’t been used in a while. Mercilessly.