Friday, March 11, 2011

What happens when you get older? Surviving the tsunami of free time

Well, it depends on your circumstances, but until age 62 I was still in the traces--supporting a family, working full time, fitting in the creative stuff around that--mental capacity very good. Then, against my will (laid off by my thrifty governor) I retired. Simultaneously my youngest went off to college and I got a pension. I realized I was free to pursue all creativity in unrestricted time--to make a long story short, this emerged as a problem, not a benefit. I found having responsibility to others (job, family) had structured my life in a way that allowed creativity to flow, whereas no restrictions were baffling. I reverted to focusing on housework! (wrote a poem about that)--short-term memory goes at this age, so the need to focus is paramount. After 42 years being externally structured by responsibility I have had to re-learn how to handle free time. I would say finding really concrete projects helps, keeping connected with people who are like yourself,  keeping moving physically--to the limit really--and not languishing in the past too much is all important to keeping happy. The old body finally begins to show signs of wearing out--you just can't move as fast (I was a sprinter once), and mentally you need to do things you truly get motivated to do. When you are younger all of this happens naturally. You have to work at it when you are older. You ask the best questions!

Here is that poem about reverting to housework after the Tsunami of free time hit:

I am bound to Hestia--am her slave:
Every day she binds me to her service.
I wonder where my muse has gone.

For when I come to write, I sweep instead,
No holy words, no light and confession--
And when you come to the end of confession,
It cannot be long to the end of ends.
Venerable poets would say, wouldn't they,
The task to write a poem is holy?

But Hestia will not let me go and write.
Someone of sufficient stature must
Be made to sweep the house in endless hours:
She turns to me. I fear these twilight beings
Who walk in shades of truth and beauty here
Won't come to whisper in my ear again.

"Here-- take this" she says, and holds me out the broom.
"Prepare their rooms for them. They've traveled far
And need a night of peace and quiet now.
Perhaps their dreams will drift on down to you
While you are sleeping on the hearth--now go."

Poets long must toil, I know,
Never-ending days and nights,
Keeping house for Hestia's guests.
I am bound to Hestia, am her slave:
Every day she binds me to her service.
Oh, how I want my muse to come again! (6/4/10)

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