Tag Archives: Writing

The Retiring Kind

In our last episode, I talked about making the decision to retire from the working world. After Family Leave for my wife’s terminal illness in 2020, I returned to work on a semi-retired schedule of 3 days per week. I retired officially on April 15th this year.

It’s a big step and and something of a drastic change in one’s life, and I am keenly aware that the subconscious brain is not particularly fond of change. Perhaps that’s unfair. Closer to the truth to say brain goes into a certain “scramble-the-jets” mode when substantial changes occur. It’s doing its important job of keeping us healthy and safe from our environments. It’s looking for the landmarks that remain, and sorting through every bit of new data that is sent its way.

So I decided I better go on vacation before I tell my brain that I have retired. Vacation is mostly a good thing, and brain is accustomed to the concept. I say “mostly a good thing” because I have planned and taken more than one vacation dedicated to wallpapering a kitchen or building a porch or changing the engine in a Subaru, so they aren’t always relaxing and reinvigorating, let’s say.

The plan ensued to slowly get brain comfortable with throwing away the alarm clock and not caring if there is a clean shirt for tomorrow. This could pass for vacay, easy. I figure this will be good for about two weeks or so, then brain will start getting antsy about not being awakened from a perfectly-sound (and needed) sleep, or getting that after-work rush of running around to feed the dog and the cat and serve dinner and change clothes and maybe mow a little or clean the pellet stove.

My new plan is to suggest that when I return from vacation from my semi-retirement after leave, I will go on sabbatical. Sabbatical is all about rest and recharging the spirit, and usually lasts up to a year and specifically excludes paint and wallpaper. Hopefully, subconscious brain will start to take a fancy to all this nothing-doing-ness and perhaps think about going on retreat for a while before returning to the world. Rest is good for the brain, too, y’know. It’s not just for muscles and spirits.

“Vacation” is going well, pretty much. I’m real glad about a lot of things like having time to paint (landscapes on canvas, not clapboard on houses), and have been able to mow the lawn at my leisure, enjoying it from the morning window in the kitchen. Writing seems to elude me, but I guess one needs to vacation from many aspects of daily routine on sabbatical. I get an urge to write and subconscious brain is so slick it’s right there behind me with a suspicious sneer, “I thought we were on vacation?!” And I’m so afraid of letting the cat out of the bag and throwing a wrench in the works and upsetting the apple cart that I zip my lip and hold my tongue and don’t let on and close the journal on that, so-to-speak.

I have been writing a lot of poetry. That’s an acceptable vacation thing, I guess. Just one page at a time typically, and you don’t even need to fill a page or have a topic or anything. Almost like doodling. Or writing your name in the sand with a stick. You can write poetry from a hammock or an Adirondack chair. Heck, you could stay in bed and write poetry all morning, Way late. Like 8 o’clock. Yeah, that’s vacation alright.

On sabbatical, I think it would be alright to keep a journal, don’t you? Not like just a diary like “I got new roller skates today” but more like a place to make note of all you appreciate in that now or the wonders on which you ponder in a spiritual battery recharging. Those sound like nice things for a subconscious brain to go along with for a while, wouldn’t you agree? I sure would. Sabbaticals can have more than just poetry.

‘Cause y’know I really like to write, and it’s really a part of me and has been for a long time before I got to retir this year’s vacation and subsequent sabbatical. Retire This year’s schedule has allowed me to relax to degrees I have not been able to experience for decades. It was fruitless trying to recall what it felt like when last I was a bachelor. Technically, a widower, but I am a man who is responsible only for himself now, one who answers to no one and can grant any preference. It’s simply normal life for so many, but it is new-ish to me. Sure, I lived as a bachelor before I married and had children and grew from apartment to home and from job to career.

Writing was one of the things that has always connected to the real root of me. In many ways it joins other artistic pursuits as an indelible, inalienable core. Perhaps an alter ego. A face beneath the many hats of son and father, husband and citizen, supporter and leader, guest and friend, mentor and grandfather. For all of those strong spokes of my life’s wheel are directed outward and connected inward. They return joy and glory and pride and love and feelings of accomplishment, drive, duty and productiveness to the eyes on the face beneath the hat. And aren’t “the eyes the windows to the soul?”.

Yes, I agree with you. Thanks for seconding the notion that journaling is good for the soul. That’s a solid statement subconscious brain can sink its metaphoric teeth into and symbolically chew on for a while as our virtual vacation nears its imaginary end.

A little distraction as we speed-bump over a small change and move on from vacation.

On sabbatical, we’ll have time to consider going on hiatus for a while.

Take care and keep in touch.
(You may experience some delay if my mail is held while away)

Paz

Reiteration

Top of The Hill

Write something. You’re a writer- write. Writers write.
Even the word looks wrong, the pen feels foreign and slightly out of alignment.

There are several mistakes and cross-outs already by the fourth sentence.

This is stupid now. I’m just filling up space with ink. Exercise for my quill hand. Oh look, that familiar penmanship has returned. Good morning, Mr.Hyde.

Exercise not only for the muscle, but the brain.
Slow to the speed of the pen.
Watch the ball roll across the paper, magically depositing universally-recognizable symbols to communicate distinctly and eloquently the vaporous rambling in which I am now mired.

Okay. I haven’t “really” written for a year. More cross-outs.

I can’t tell you how many compositions I’ve begun. How I intended and wanted to write when I get to the right time and place. How good it felt to take some short laps, play nine writing song lyrics or a meaningful blog comment.

Well, whad’ya know. Turning a page in the journal. I’ve filled 29 college-ruled lines. (OK, 28 ’cause of the cross-outs) 70 square inches of dribble, writing about not knowing what to write about or doing any writing in a year.

Cross-outs again. That was a stupid line. Another 28-er.
I’m not sure- can’t quite see myself posting this particular piece to the blog. I’m in a Salinger-esque mood and slamming things together into enunciations as if I am speaking aloud and the pauses and inflection will carry me through. Ooh! I see a segue coming. Get ready.

I was walking through the pantry, my ever-whirring mind at mid-throttle.
“Tone it down a little.” I spoke aloud.
I almost startled myself with the noise. It was comical and amusing that one’s own utterance could be startling.
And but also it was like a rocket, sent from a million miles away from deep within the far reaches of my brain’s right hemisphere. It was telling me that I had overwhelmed myself with options. A have a few small responsibilities and a dozen compelling options for the application of my time otherwise. This amounts to a LOT of time, really.
Now I’m not saying “a lot of time” like “on my hands”, like implying boredom or anything. Just the opposite.

I have so many pursuits, hobbies, interests and passions that sometimes it’s difficult for me to choose one. Crazy, right? Some are easy, like stopping at the kitchen window to watch birds at the feeders and the other goings-on out there. Or a few minutes on the couch watching the woodpecker at the suet feeder on the south porch.

*************************************************************************

Several days later:

I’m writing constantly in my head. Everything I see and do on a daily basis I am describing in well-constructed sentences. I wish there was some magic machine that could record and transcribe all of these ethereal bits and pieces then print them out for my perusal at a later date. I write in my head all the time but find it difficult these days to commit to the assembly of a respectable composition. Do you want to hear the ten-thousand excuses or are you a writer (or other artist) that already knows them all? Somehow my brain tells me these hobbies and pursuits are frivolous wasting of time. There are responsibilities to be responsible for, work that needs to be worked on, chores that need to be chored. How can one stop and play when the work is not yet done?


When I was a kid, my mom would ask me to clean my room. She’d remind me several times and wait. Then one day she would sweep all of the toys and clothes and what-have-you into a pile in the middle, and upon my next arrival home would announce: “No going out to play until your room is clean.”
I suppose I’ve only compounded the problem with my hyperactive accumulation of “interests”, and my propensity to take up “pursuits” which are complicated and time-consuming like writing and painting and music. Why couldn’t I have stuck with some simpler things like tennis and crosswords? Sometimes I stand in place and turn circles like an excited three-year-old in a candy store. I’m torn in multiple directions, unable to choose because I want to do everything all the time. Then I hear mom.
“No play until your room is clean.”

I’m cyphering these things out now as I embark on “Year 2” as a man in later life, suddenly and unexpectedly single. Widowed well over a year now, the black crepes come down and it’s time to get on with the living of my life from here forward.
I’ve been running a lot in the past year from one thing to the next. Perhaps denying each the proper amount of attention. The blogs have fallen by the wayside a little, for no reason other than being overshadowed by other activities.

Writing, however, is not about making blog posts for me. It is an inexplicably enchanting siren that calls me to return to the craft of it.
Diction and grammar and dynamic components that compel the reader ever on, through the commas and the semi-colons; the dangling participles, to the very punctuation mark that signals its end, like singing along with a song until it is over. For the longest time (roughly before blogging existed) my writing consisted of journaling my own personal experiences. In a way something of a diary, yet the commitment to paper seemed to imbue relative value on the thoughts and recollections.

These journals are part of my journey, the entries within like the proceeds of the way I “spent” my time. For each day recorded we count the till and revel in our profits. Once catalogued, these pages remain as receipts, proofs-of-purchase, warranty registrations. Here are all those things we can take with us when we die, iterated in physical form.
Rewarding works, triumphs of the soul and spirit. Adventure, wonder, curiosity. Beauty, nature, the arts. Community, camaraderie, company and companionship.
Living, laughter, love.

In “Year 1” I thought I had recoiled a bit, an almost-over-corrected reaction and change in my attitude toward the World. I had for the longest time been developing an allergy to it, and my wife’s death provided a worthy excuse to extricate myself from it. It became something of an unintended sabbatical, and now I am woe to return to “civilization” from the perfect and beautiful sanctity of my mountaintop lair.

In fact, I am resistant to doing so. I’m cashing in my chips and retiring from the working world. Probably another two weeks and we’ll be ready. Now at this very cusp of my dream life, my mind and spirit are listening to those sirens, impatient for the days when I can give each of them their proper due.

It’s 17 degrees F today, March 28, ’22. With wind chill 8. Now it has risen as the wind gusts dropped to 12 miles per hour. I have decided to sit at the table- my favorite place in the world- and write. Even if I don’t come up with some Earth-shattering concept or Pulitzer-winning poem. Even if I just write words.

You’re a writer- so write.

Slainte,

Paz