Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Better but not yet good

I suppose it's inevitable that time seems more pressing than it used to be. Death, children growing up, and my own aging remind me every day that there's simply less of the stuff than there used to be. Using my time well is beginning to feel like a compulsion.

In my usual dualistic fashion, I've been tackling this in ways that seem contrary and paradoxical. I seem to be running around a lot. I'm so on top of errands that part of my brain is always casting about for the thing I need to do and the place I need to be next. When I'm not at home, I seem to be on target. I'm positive, cheerful, action-oriented and hopeful. I stay busy. I'm starting a new little business venture that excites me. With a new haircut and a little more attention to my appearance lately, I've been looking good. I can feel that my walk is taller, and better posture has almost become a habit again. My sense of humor is back, and I make people smile and laugh again.

Then I get home and slip into a maxi-dress that's so comfortable it feels like pajamas and lets me maintain the illusion that I still look good, and everything becomes stop and smell the roses. The relief from not being on for other people is palpable. I want to enjoy the moments and savor the quiet pleasures of life. I'm living alone, and I want to do it well. I'm old enough to know these things are important. I take my time enjoying my morning coffee or tea. I'm trying to eat healthy, appetizing foods that I enjoy. At night, I light my candles, stretch, put my feet up and try to enjoy a DVD or a book. I'm looking at old hobbies I let drop and wondering which I'll pick up again. At times, this seemingly leisured pursuit of simple pleasures feels almost hedonistic. Yet, there are times when it's just a sham.

When I'm on the run, I want my friends to know that I'm not the shocked, hopelessly sad wreck I was for so many months. For a long time I couldn't be around people without feeling and almost saying, "I'm a basket case, but can you still please, please love me anyway?" Part of what I'm doing now is very conscious "fake it til you make it" stuff. I am better, much better, in part because I decided I simply had to get better. Yet the ache of loss and still not understanding so many events of the last few years is never too far from the surface. The littlest things can make me cry, even though now, I make the effort to do it with controlled grace.

When I'm at home, fear and self-reproach want to take the foreground. If I'm not doing chores or accomplishing a little goal like fixing a decent home cooked meal for just myself, an internal voice is calling me lazy, telling me to tackle the fear du jour right now. My to do lists are growing, but no matter how much I get done, I feel like I'm prioritizing poorly. If I let these things get to me, I feel paralyzed but make it look like a moment of peace. I may dream of being a wise woman, but these moments remind me just how much of a wannabe I really am.

Pleasure and productivity have returned to my life, not to the levels I would like them to be, but they are back. I know I have to figure out how to better manage my time better. Part of me wants to treat it like water with the knowledge that time can't be gripped and will always keep on flowing away from me. Another part wants to marshall the minutes like a military parade. I just have to have faith that I'll find the balance again.


Blogger Gannet Girl said...

Great, fabulous post.

August 11, 2009 5:39 AM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

I am so happy for you, for all the upward momentum you've built in the past few months. It's wonderful to see you being positive and decisive. Who cares whether the movement is not particularly well prioritized? You're moving...that's what's important.

August 11, 2009 10:33 AM  
Blogger Theresa Williams said...

Very good essay. Perceptive and well-written. Good for you, Cyn. I am rooting for you.

August 12, 2009 3:18 AM  

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