“Work seemed fundamental for man, something which enabled him to endure the aimless flight of time.” – The Woman in the Dunes, Kōbō Abe
I have written on a post-it note, “You have to have some faith. Your moment is coming” from this excellent post on Medium. But it’s getting old. The other day I spent the entire day painting and took Riley to the dog park where she played in the water and I met a girl from France. Then I went to my graphic design class and came home and read my travel book until 1 in the morning. A few days later I went to my first SAMbassador volunteer shift at the Seattle Art Museum and it turned out to be the opening of Pop! Departures (the pop culture exhibit we have on with Warhol and Lichtenstein) as well as the monthly jazz concert and several tours. So it was packed and party-like and I had a blast chatting with people and looking at art. I am also working my way through a self-study course on Japanese poetry and literature and will be taking a class in Japanese language in a few weeks. I’m updating my resume and checking out grad schools, I took a photography class. I’ve joined close to 30 meetups and four professional organizations. I’m systematically checking out different cafes to write in and I’m exploring Washington State. I just got back from Japan and an exploratory trip around the Olympic Peninsula. This week I am going to Vancouver, then my sister is coming to visit and then Matt and Riley and I are going to go on a road trip around the Western United States. I’ve read over 100 books this year, some started and finished in the same day.
My life is pretty freaking great – on paper anyways. In actuality, I am going out of my freaking mind. So much of it just feels like filling time.
When we first embarked on this move to Seattle, we were ready to drop everything and leave immediately. Truly, I thought we would have to send Matt down and I would follow because things were happening so quickly. But then things changed and there was a bit of a wait so I picked up some projects and settled in and waited. But then there was another setback and another until it seemed like the rug was being pulled out from under me every two or three months. It’s hard to keep up the momentum and the hope that your moment is coming when you’re constantly being told to wait. It’s exhausting.
The latest is that the USCIS Service Center in Nebraska is reviewing my application for Employment Authorization and that will take them three months – until November 15th. But instead of having faith I’m steeling myself for another delay. I came home from Japan thinking that I would be able to work at the end of September only to be told I’d have to wait some more. It’s different from being unemployed but employable – that’s a hard place to be in but at least you can apply yourself to finding a job. And retirement…well, a fellow volunteer at the art gallery told me happily that he spends a lot of time just sitting and thinking about things and that when I was old enough for retirement I would be ok with sitting and thinking too. Maybe. Maybe it’s true that life catches up with you or that if you have the rest of time to plan our your retirement it’s easier, but I don’t think so. I think I’m more like this taxi driver I heard interviewed on a podcast recently:
Host: Do you look forward to retirement?
Taxi Driver: No, I’m scared of it. I don’t feel that retirement is exactly the best of things for me. When you retire you sort of go into a shell and you’re like the forgotten person. You get bogged down in nothing and you do nothing and you wind up nothing.
Host: That’s interesting, so here you put in a minimum 12 hours a day, 7 days a week but you feel more tired…
Taxi Driver: …if I didn’t. Because when I’m not busy I get very weary.
-Radio Diaries #19 Working Then And Now
I like being busy. In truth I always imagined that my retirement would look much the same as my days do now; walking the dog, going to yoga, meeting up with people for various activities, travelling, cooking, reading… I’m grateful for the time I’ve had to spend doing these things and for Matt working so hard, but I want to contribute. I want to be able to get into the rhythm of working on something for longer than a quarter, to stop filling time.
It’s Thanksgiving in Canada today. I’m going up to see some friends and have dinner with my family. I’m grateful to be able to do that, on what is a weekday in Seattle. It’s a beautiful fall day, my favourite time of year. I love wearing sweaters and going for walks in the leaves with my dog and a mug of tea. I love the rain. I love the feeling of back to school and settling down to work. And so I feel that if my moment is coming, it will come in the fall. I’m so ready.