Leaning Into What’s Next

Finding My Way

The second half of 2018 has been weird. A burden was lifted when Social Security checks began to arrive a year ago. With them came a view that new undertakings were possible, unlike at any time since I returned from Germany in 1979.

The next big thing isn’t as obvious in 2018 as it was in years past.

Maybe removing economic worry became the impetus for a new way of seeing the world — a complete segregation between who I am and work I do in society. I’m less worried about society and the focus is now on me. It’s new territory for someone who has been steadily busy since high school. What will this next act in life be?

I think of the famous speech from As You Like It although I’m not sure William Shakespeare’s seven ages of man still apply. When life expectancy was shorter they may have been relevant (in British Society), but with a longer span our lives are more diverse and such notion of ages antique.

There have been breaks in the continuum of my life. The time before school, then schooling through high school, leaving home for university and adventure, settling in with marriage and a career, followed by a long semi-retirement leading to this year when I applied for my Social Security pension and stepped back from working except when it interested me. By that reckoning I am beginning a sixth period although it doesn’t seem so clear cut. It seems downright foggy, the path vague.

After first retirement in July 2009, I had hope of starting a new career or my own business. That didn’t happen the way I expected. The question these days is how will I spend them? Each day is an open book, often isolated from the ones before and after. It is no way for a human to live.

This all came home after apple season when I reduced my work schedule to two eight-hour shifts at the home, farm and auto supply store each week. I’m hopeful to make a positive contribution during the sixth age of Paul. Already I’m autonomously getting started with next year’s garden, more writing and reading, and plenty of cooking. However, these things are a baseline in who I am, rather than the full result — a framework the contents of which aren’t visible in the chiaroscuro of mist-filled days and cloudy afternoons. Like a batter as the baseball is pitched from a mound, what to do next will become clear as I stand at the plate and consider the sphere and its rotations as it hurls toward the catcher’s mitt.

I expect I will write my way out of this. Not today, but soon. Once I do, Katy bar the door.

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