Saturday, April 5, 2014

Free to define this Living

Writers and Artists Exchange-Port Orford, Or. 2013

For decades, on freeways and byways, driving miles and hours to and from work in the early and late hours of the day, I could only concentrate on two things, the road and the immediate problem facing me at the end of the trip.

Sometimes, the time that it took for me to drive, that distance, physical and emotional, between my problems and the rest of my life though long in miles and time, was enough to help me see that the bigger question was never asked; and the bigger decisions were never in my in-basket. I could only think of the most pressing tasks ahead, while the bigger things in life were deferred, day after day, months after months, decades after decades.

The bigger things in life moved at their own pace.

How and when did I define my life?
Did I contribute much to the direction my life took?
When did I have an opportunity to be bold and unafraid and state what was most important in my life?

By my count, five times stand as markers:
1. When I came to America
2. When I moved out to live on my own.
3.When I got married.
4.When we decided to quit our jobs and pursue higher education.
5. When we retired.

What do I wish I had done consciously during all those years of work?

1. Take sabbaticals.  I could have planned three to six months travel studies in all the major parts of the world. Our lives would have been enriched immensely.

2. Take more vacations.

3. Write

4. Learn to play an instrument

5. Pursue hobbies and other activities on my own, not just what my family needed from me.

How about you? Were you free and conscious of your decisions?


erin said...

free and conscious? continually trying, rosaria.

something happened to me in my first marriage where freedom and consciousness became buried. no one did it to anyone. it simply happened. but from that time i have two incredibly beautiful children and they have many beautiful memories and so i regret nothing.

but god, am i glad to be free and conscious now. but it is work. i don't (or hope not to) become complacent with this.


so, what exciting things to you dare to take on now? let's begin:)


Rob-bear said...

This is a bit strange, Rosaria. Let me clarify; it is the coincidence which seems strange. I was reading and writing a response to Amanda's latest note, about journaling. It's something which I have not done for a long time, and to which I feel myself turning this year.

Looking at your list:
1. I would have taken sabbaticals, were that possible.
2. I would have taken different vacations, were that possible.
3. I've written professionally and personally, and I have learned to play several instruments.
4. My post-graduate studies in ethics have led me into activities which I really consider (in reflection) to be hobbies (though very demanding hobbies). I still do a bit of that, having just been re-appointed to a committee at our University.

Brian Miller said...

i want to travel more...
def would be nice to take sabbaticals....dont think i can do that...ha....i usually write more when i travel too...

Tom Sightings said...

I worked fulltime for over 30 years. It's not that I didn't like my job; it's that I could never take time off. Got to be a real grind. But how do you take time off when you can't afford to; when your employer wouldn't allow it so you'd have to quit; when you have to support yourself and a family; when you need the medical insurance. I think things have gotten a little better in recent years, at least for some people.

Linda Myers said...

I wish I had learned earlier to let go of all the things over which I had no control.

I wish I'd had fitness and exercise as a higher priority - probably won't bungee jump now, or rock climb. Not sure I would have even then, though, come to think of it.

Rachel Cotterill said...

I try to be quite conscious in my decision-making in general, but at the same time, I read something the other day that really resonated with me: if you spend all your time choosing, you'll tend to choose your favourite things over and over again. Sometimes it's good to let yourself not-choose. Take a path at random, pick something you've never eaten from a menu, flip a coin. The result might be wonderful or awful (more likely indifferent) but it will be experience. I do believe in the importance of gathering different experiences, not always surrounding yourself with what you already think is 'best'. I already do this a bit so I think I'll be trying to do more :)

Maggie May said...

I just put my head down & kept going doing small pleasurable things for myself every now & then when I could, whilst looking after my family. I enjoyed staying at home looking after them but paid the price later for doing so as I missed the opportunity of getting a good state pension let alone a vocational one because part time work was not counted in those days towards one.
So maybe I wish I'd thought more about that.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Becky Jerdee said...

I pretty much rolled with what life brought me. I never dreamed of the wonderful things that came to me...I grew up with low expectations. I lived under the rules of the least the ones my parents gave me: Work hard. Have a family. Pay your own way. I got much more than that and don't have a single regret. Life handed me many beautiful things which I totally appreciate and I have nothing on my bucket list...except maybe get back to London once more :)

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I don't think I could begin to answer this in a comment box. I'm thinking I'm going to pose you question on today page in my journal - and see what I think.

I admire your list of large events and decisions. As well as the list of what to do differently. Thinking I'm gonna get that summer trip planned.

Vagabonde said...

You know I’ll go back to what I say often – I think it has a lot to do with culture. Here in the US the culture is to work and to believe vacations, learning an instrument or another language, etc., are frivolities. I come from a culture which says that vacations are as important as work – that happiness is not only a job. I quit some jobs because they did not give me vacations and then took 2 jobs to make it up. I worked on week-ends and sometimes 60 hours a week or more so I could take time off to go to visit my parents in Paris twice a year for decades – that was as much a part of my budget as eating, and sometime I did not eat much so I could pay for the plane fare. So I don’t have regrets – yes I left my country but I saw my parents as much as I could and I visited many countries along the years and I had a ball. I wish the US would finally join the rest of the western world and make giving paid vacation a law.

yaya said...

I always say that people do in life what they really want. If somebody wants something bad enough they will move heaven and earth to see it done. Sometimes I've felt as if my life moved like a river and I was caught in the current...just going about what was expected. It's easy to look back and wonder and see the big picture. I have a list too of what I might have done differently. I hope to have a new list of what I will do differently in the future. Life's a journey and I'm not through yet, so I guess I need to get that pencil out and begin writing!

LindyLou Mac said...

David and I wanted to travel more and as you know had already started making plans to achieve this aim. not for one minute did I dream how much my life was about to change. Thanks so much for your lovely comment on a recent post ethnoculturalist,I like the idea. :)

teflon said...

Nice, thought provoking post. I am in my mid-30s now, and often wonder if I'll be satisfied with my life when it ends. I have taken some risks, traveled (though not as much as I want), taken some decisions that are considered non-traditional, but those that comfort me.. but sometimes I wonder, if I'm doing all I can. Perhaps not. It feels like just yesterday that I was a little girl, just yesterday that I got my degree, just yesterday that I started working. And now I have spend 11 years working. 12, if you count the stint before my post-grad. All of this, where is it going? I often wonder.. Your post, made me think all over again. It is going to be a weekend of reflections, travel and reflections.

troutbirder said...

Grew up in the big city and settled down to married life in a rural setting, loved teaching till the day I forced myself to retire. I told people June thru August were our favorites month to take our boys camping all over North America. Now retired we travel even more. Contentment might no make for a great novel but it worked for me. Except for losing our eldest son to the effect of bi polar at age 27. That would be a different story.