I wonder how many posts to blogs begin with an apology for not having written sooner. Of course, I’ve got the usual excuses—I’ve been busy—but who isn’t busy these days? (I like to say that if you don’t have attention deficit disorder these days, you should try to develop it as a necessary job skill.) Keeping busy has become a lifestyle for most of us, what with our day jobs and our avocations, our volunteer committees, our so-called leisure activities, not to mention all the time it takes just to keep up—going to the grocery store, preparing meals and cleaning up after, washing and folding laundry, dusting and vacuuming, scrubbing the sinks, bathing and brushing our teeth, phoning our family, checking in on Facebook, reading the newspaper, sorting the recyclables. Still, I should have more time than most to do what I say I want to do, which is to write. We no longer have children at home, the grandchildren live far away, our last pet died a year ago, I’m not trying to work on an advanced degree in my “spare time,” and we don’t own a television. But I do like my sleep, and the hours are sadly limited.
By the time I get home from a full day of staring at a computer monitor editing other people’s writing, the last thing I want to do is sit at the computer and write. For one thing, the editor in me is all too eager to say, “No good! Delete that last sentence. Don’t say that! That’s boring!” For another, there are so many other things I also want to do. For example, I’d like to have a glass of wine and finish that book I’ve been reading about Antarctica. I’d like to plant my spring garden. I’d like to go for a walk through the woods or play music or dance with my husband. I’d like to work on the sweater I’ve been knitting. I’d like to knit baby hats for my coworker’s triplets and a poncho for my granddaughter. I’d like to get out my watercolors and paint. I’d like to reupholster the wing-backed chair in the living room. I’d like to go on one of those eco-tours to help save baby sea turtles or repair fences out west somewhere. I’d like to learn Chinese.
Lately I have found myself doing the math in my head to try to calculate how much time I likely have left, how much time I’ve wasted so far. It is obvious that I am well past middle aged, unless I expect to live to be 110. I hope I have at least a good thirty years remaining, but of course, there is no way to know. Still, my genetics seem fairly sound, and I try to take care of myself. But there are always accidents to worry about and new diseases we haven’t yet discovered. Occasionally, I am caught off balance by a line from a poem by W. S. Merwin that comes back to me at odd moments when I am least expecting it and reminds me that “Every year without knowing it, I have passed the anniversary of my death.” What a thought! When I was young, I used to think I didn’t know enough about life to write with authority, and so I missed many opportunities to write about my experiences at the time. All these years later, I still feel as though I am not wise enough or experienced enough, but I’m beginning to think that there are a few things I’d like my children and grandchildren to know, which they may not have an opportunity to learn if I don’t try to pass them on in the years I have left.