I’ve been perplexed by my recent gloom. My life is so replete with everything anyone could ask for, and yet I’m feeling unfulfilled, undirected, purposeless…not needed. What’s up?
For years I prepared feverishly to create magical holidays for my four kids. Now that sense of duty is missing. I’m not giving enough. With too much time to myself, I’m sliding into self-absorption, a recipe for unhappiness.
The other day I was out doing bland errands, feeling like a useless shit. A homeless guy held a sign in a parking lot. Sparked by insights from my students’ final papers, I walked over to him, looked him in the eye and asked how he was doing. In their interviews with homeless people and recovering addicts, my students learned that their interviewees’ greatest wish is to be seen as more than their unfortunate circumstance, to be seen as human beings, to be seen, period. I also handed him $5. I hope our interchange helped. I know it helped me.
Jamie Anderson’s beautiful grief quote can apply to life change of all sorts. Grief, she says, is unspent love “with no place to go.” I think that may be what is happening inside my heart, though I’m loath to admit it. My children all have happy, fulfilling, love-drenched lives; it is everything I hoped for them. Still, without them here, it seems I am drowning in unspent love. I haven’t cultivated local outlets to spend it in, and I don’t have the self-discipline to disburse it among my faraway loved ones, who would appreciate it, but don’t really need it. Also, too many trips to the post office (oh the power of inertia!).
Opportunities abound. I just have to push myself out of isolation and seek others in need of attention.
My 60th year in 60,000 words
Day 118: 297 words, TOTAL = 19,473; 40,527 remaining
Robin Clifford Wood is a writer and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband and dogs, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her grown children and their multi-species families.