I have to interrupt my usual self-absorption to report on a new way to focus on myself.
Yes. a better self-absorption.
I have been preoccupied with getting old. I turned 65 earlier in the year, and all I can think about is how I want to live in the limited time I have left.
But what if it is not limited? What if I have 35 more years?
Life is like an old record album (remember?) The first several circuits of the album take a while. The needle has to go all the way around the edge. But as you get closer to the end of the album, the circle grows smaller and the circuits really are faster. But when you listen to the music, you don’t hear a difference.
So accurate! My years will go around faster and faster, but it will still be as sweet.
And there is so much to do!
I am sure I can make my needle go around to the sweetest music ever. My music will be the accompaniment to years of fine, if smaller, travels around the center.
I want to write more.
And sure, a lot will be the trivial silly stuff I often write – because I love to make someone laugh. And maybe a little chuckle is just what that someone needed more than anything at just that moment. To provide that is a noble goal.
But once in a while I also want to write something a little more thoughtful. I hope that a sentence or two may nestle into someone’s heart – maybe not forever. Just for a moment or two will be all right with me.
I want to play more.
Is it fun? Then why am I not doing it? These are the questions I need to ask myself all the time now. I tend to be cautious and fearful. A watcher from the sidelines. But those times when I have been brave are the ones I remember best. I don’t have nearly as many great memories of all those times I observed others having fun. Our good friends have a picnic every summer when they set up a long crazy water slide. I need to go down that slide!
I want to put down my phone.
Oh yes, I’m connected to the whole world. But the whole world is right in front of me. It’s bigger and more colorful and noisier than a couple of square inches on my screen. I’m not giving up my phone (no way!) – I just want to assign it to its proper place. I took the dog to the dog park the other day, and I found I was watching him through my phone – to take the cutest picture, of course. I forced myself – after taking two more shots – to put the phone away, and just BE WITH HIM.
And I learned something amazing. It’s still real if it is an experience that only I have. I do not have to share it. Somehow, slowly and insidiously, social media has altered my perception of reality. That experiences are only real if I share them. That’s so crazy. But I have been sucked in. Facebook and Instagram – and my blog – are terrific ways to connect with the world. But in some ways, those very things can disconnect you from your own experiences.
We’ve all seen it: people who don’t savor what they are eating, because they are busy texting, people who scrolling through Facebook while walking in the park. And most egregious: the school play where everyone is watching through their phones, making videos they may never watch.
I want to watch my kid (or doggie, in my case). Smile at him and take him in.Absorb him directly. Keep him as mine alone.
I want to slow down.
Yes, my old vinyl record is turning faster and faster. But the music can still sound the same.
It seems sometimes that I am speeding up the music. Making my songs go by too fast.
Here’s a tiny example. I have noticed that I cannot decipher my own handwriting. This has always been a bit of an issue for me, but now it is worse than ever. It’s one thing to rush through your signature. But I rush through everything I write. I tear up checks that I know the payee will not be able to cash. I re-write my post-its notes to my husband, because he will never understand what I wrote. It would have been quicker to write it more carefully the first time. Am I really in that much of a hurry that I can’t sign my note “Love, Nancy” instead of “N”?
I am not sure why I do this. But I do it in much more significant ways than my grocery list.
I don’t know why I rush. Why I find that dishes I have washed are still not quite clean. Why I skip paragraphs in books that I am enjoying. Why I don’t pay more attention to the scenery. Why I don’t remember driving to my destination. Why I’m not sure whether that orange was delicious or mediocre. Why I don’t really listen when people speak.
I need to be more HERE.
Because I won’t be here all that much longer.