Monday, August 26, 2013

Where I’ve Been, Where I Am, Where I Probably Won’t Go


Sacchi Green

Along with some of the rest of you, I’ve already filled some of my previous bucket lists, although generally not as fully as I’d dreamed of doing. Some other things I thought as a teenager I’d do for sure someday just aren’t going to happen, and I’m pretty much okay with that.

Travel is the main one. I live in the Northeast of the USA, and I’ve lived for a relatively brief period (three years in the infamous Sixties) in the San Francisco Bay area. I’ve traveled back and forth across the country several times, and made it as far as Maui. I’ve been to various parts of the UK three times, but that’s it for Europe (sorry if I shouldn’t be classing the UK with Europe.) Canada is close enough that I get over the border now and then, although not since one needed a passport to do so, and mine has lapsed.

Still lacking are the things I’ll never do, like travel to China, India, Egypt, all those faraway places I dreamed about that weren’t really like my book-based dreams even in my teens, and are much, much farther from that dream world now. I haven’t given up on Alaska, though, or New Zealand/Australia (although down-under is not far from seeming impossible.) I haven’t quite given up on a return visit to the UK, either, although it’s not very likely. Physically I could still do those, at least I think so (even though my joints would object to planting the daffodil bulbs that Lily mentioned, I still raise some vegetables, and luggage on rollers is not beyond me,) but economically it would be a stretch, and there are family responsibilities to consider.  My partner, who has always traveled with me until recently, has acquired somewhat of an anxiety disorder over the last decade, and has trouble handing stressful travel and crowds, so when I do travel it’s not for long at a time. That’s okay. We’ve been through enough years and enough ups and downs together that we’re each other’s highest priority, and that won’t change.

On the non-travel front, I always wanted to write and be published, and I’ve managed that to a certain degree even though I got into it on the late side, but not in the ways I thought I would. No novels, not much science fiction and fantasy, nothing much beyond short-form erotica. I should be budgeting my time differently, embracing the delayed gratification (if any) of writing longer, deeper, more creative works. But I keep being seduced by earning just enough “discretionary” money from short stories and editing to be able to travel to a few readings and conventions and similar events, and contribute to political and environmental causes and charities without dipping into the savings my partner and I classify as “for retirement,” even though we’re already retired.

All these are very common, maybe even banal, daydreams. On a deeper level, I hope to keep my health far into what years remain. (I’m particularly conscious of mortality these days because my mother died at 92 just a few months ago, after considerable decline, and my father, 93, who held it together for her sake, and has been incredibly robust for his age, is now declining pretty rapidly and may come to live with us soon.) I think my greatest fulfilled wish, one I’d very nearly given up on, is my seven year old granddaughter. I want to be around for her for a very long time.

As most of you have noted, it’s what I have, rather than what I thought I wanted but don’t now expect to have, that’s most important now. A good relationship, two sons and a granddaughter,  probably-adequate retirement savings, interesting friends, and a niche in the writing world where I can be “public, like a frog” even if in a rather small pond. (Can you tell that I live in Emily Dickinson territory?)

And I still have things I’m looking forward to way down the line. Like a hot air balloon ride. 90 seems like it would be a good age for that sort of thing, but I may not wait that long.

7 comments:

  1. I think you reflect what used to be called "wisdom". I've told my kids that some people get wiser as they grow older, and some just get old and stay as dumb as a rock, the way they were as kids. They'd look around at classmates they disliked and laugh at the idea that some people don't grow and attempt to become better people, mainly because they have no idea of how or why to do it.

    A rich inner life honed by years of self-examination is what is required. Everyone on this site is still on a journey of deep reflection: the topics chosen for all of you to expound upon prove that. I've read some writing here that brought me to tears, others that contributed to my intellectual or spiritual enlightenment. No one is paid...no one "gets" anything from posting her, except the satisfaction from seeing their inner monologue in print. And that's enough.

    The current vogue might say "He who dies with the most toys wins"...but to those who acquire wisdom along the way, the need for toys and trivial competitions becomes irrelevant. Coming to accept who you have become is more important. Reflecting on a life well-lived brings contentment. The historic role of older folks has always been to provide perspective and direction to the brashness of youth. Even if no one except your contemporaries listens, this is an important accomplishment.

    Thanks for making me think such deep thoughts on a Monday morning. Starts out my week right.

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  2. I still like to travel, but Momma has had it up to here with it. She traveled a lot for her job and now has a bellyful. So I sometimes have to go it alone.

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    1. I don't mind going it alone, but my partner gets very nervous when I'm away, and, having been a legitimate cause for nervousness a time or two in various ways, I'm not going to push it now.

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  3. In my ealyl fifties I noticed within me an increased capacity for knowledge. I think it is another stage, maybe not as noticeable as adolescence, but just as profound. Some use that increase for knowledge and growth, others use it to hunker down, get set harder in their ways and refusal to learn.

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  4. Hi, Sacchi,

    If you do decide to attempt Asia, you do have someone you know here...

    Don't ever give up on your dreams, as implausible as they might seem.

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  5. here's to good health & good company. sounds like you are savouring the pleasures of the now.

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  6. Good health, god company and a certain perspective are worth a lot. Thanks for the mellow, thought-provoking post, Sacchi.

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