March came in like a lion. Bitterly cold, snowy, and windy. I’ve been camped out on the couch next to the fireplace, reading, and playing on my tablet. Not much to do, no place to go. Safe and sound.
Of course, my mind wanders to what I could (i.e. should) be doing with the vast swaths of time before me.
- The floors need vacuuming. As you know, I hate my vacuum cleaner.
- Maybe I’ll make a batch of cookies. Nah, then I’d have to eat them.
- Write something? Nothing inspires, these days.
As I find excuses to dismiss each suggestion, the warmth from the hearth and the comfort of the couch lull me to sle….
Saved by the bell. It’s a friend from the Women’s Institute. She asks, “How are things with you?”
I tell her that life is good. I’m enjoying my retirement. So far, winter is not a hardship, even with the near blizzard conditions. Yes, cabin fever looms, it’s approaching the threshold, I’ll admit, but so far, it’s not a problem.
I tell her. “Even when I was working I was aware that I “should” be productive with my spare time. Put it to good use, be creative, or at the very least, keep the house in order. Now that I have all the time in the world, those judge-y voices are getting louder.”
As it happened, she had just been listening to a radio program. The show featured a recently retired fellow who struggled with his new retiree status. He too felt the pressure to “do something,” something grand, something earth-shattering, something meaningful. His solution was simple. Allow yourself to be happy with what you are doing, even if it is nothing at all.
Wow. Give your self permission to be happy.
I’ve been mulling this over ever since, trying his advice on for size, as it were.
And I’m resisting his words.
Do you want to know why?
Blogging. Damn it to hell, but everything I think about is processed through you guys, my audience. For better or worse, you guys are my witnesses; my confessors. Just as my WI friend said, blogging is like Frankie and Grace’s self-talk therapy. Talking to, and recording yourself via the iPhone.
So, welcome to my stream of consciousness:
Give your self permission to be happy.
I mean, sure who doesn’t want to be happy?
But if I write that I’m happy, doesn’t that disregard, if not dismiss those who are struggling?
If I write that I’m unhappy, doesn’t that make me a whiny, self-centered first-worlder, and further diminish those who are truly struggling?
Wait: is this what survivor guilt is all about? Making it, “succeeding” when so many or struggling?
GAH! I’m over-thinking this, right?! I’ve always been over-thinking! Ever since adolescence and Nights in White Satin, when over thinking was the default mode for my crowd.
… and so on.
The term “nature abhors a vacuum” comes to mind. I’m sitting in a big, wide-open space at the moment, and waiting for nature to fulfill its lawful mandate. The Latin, Horror Vacui, is apt, if you interpret the first term literally. The horror of silence. Of emptiness. Of sitting still with nothing to do.
I’d say cabin fever has crossed the threshold, wouldn’t you?
*** *** ***
In physics, *horror vacui, or plenism, is commonly stated as “Nature abhors a vacuum.” It is a postulate attributed to Aristotle, who articulated a belief, that nature contains no vacuums because the denser surrounding material continuum would immediately fill the rarity of an incipient void.
With many thanks to Elaine.
Categories: Personal Growth