Monday, November 27, 2023

Post Thanksgiving Ponderings

 Thanksgiving was remarkably low key this year.  It is, as one commenter has pointed out, a sort of short term enforced holiday: it is relatively unique to the US, it lasts for a day (or two), and given the nature of the holiday, there are often a limited number of things one can do (and watching Sportsball for me is not one of those things). 

We had a pretty quiet family time, dinner of salmon/orzo with vegetables/sweet potato, with one's choice of pumpkin or pecan pie for dessert.  As per tradition, we watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  Other than that I read and napped a bit.

Friday was largely a repeat of Thursday:  read more, planted what garden I was going to plant for the year (mostly leafy greens at the end of the garden that gets sun; the garlic went in last month) and pulled up a small bucket of sweet potatoes. From there, the week eased back into its normal form:  Iaijutsu class and Produce (A)Isle on Saturday, church and rabbit shelter on Sunday.  

Like that, we lurch into the holiday season and the end of the year.

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One of the things that occurred to me is that I might actually be reaching a delayed mid-life crisis.

My life feels as if it h as a lot of "going through the motions" about it at the present time.  I get up, I do some things, I do to work and do somethings, I come home and do some things or go to another job and do some things.  There is a lot of doing, but it just feels like it often doing just because that is what I have always done.

It is perhaps fair to allow myself the luxury that this has been a year of a lot of changes and that in some ways, my "purpose" up to this point is fulfilled:  Na Clann are now effectively safely launched off into their own lives, TB the Elder is gone and my mother, for all of our monthly visits and my sister checking in on her, is beyond any power I have to help.  And I find myself in that position of being too "young" to retire but too "old" to be truly interested in rebuilding a career in my current field, having lurched back into it after a 3 year absence.

Outside of the rabbit shelter and the pets, there is no where I feel "needed".  Just a lot of places where I am "useful".

When that thought hit me, it made me think.  A great deal.  Because whether by accident or design, I have believed myself to be needed.  But almost every one of the areas of my life, I could effectively disappear and there perhaps would be a small notice somewhere that I was gone, but not much (I excluded here my family and the rabbit shelter and Iaijutsu, where I continue to play some kind of necessary role).

This is, I suspect, where lots of people go astray:  have found their purpose or meaning gone or their deep emotional connections gone, they try to find any number of things to fill that void.

The "filling the void" thing is not necessarily an issue; the fact that more and more I feel like like I am simply floating through life without any purpose or direction.

One can hope this is a temporary state of affairs; after all, any of the previous "purposes" were predated by the fact they at one time did not exist, so at some point it is fair to assume that something new will appear.  But I have to admit that this sense of treading water is far more disorienting (and frankly, depressing) than I had anticipated.

24 comments:

  1. Nylon124:47 AM

    I found caring for the parents when they moved in to be fulfilling, helping others, something in that vein might be the ticket TB, jess saying.

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    1. Nylon12, it was good to be able to do what I could in 2020 and 2021. I do think another problem (I think likely a Saturday post) is that I am a little short in the "goals that get me excited department".

      I will say that volunteering at the rabbit shelter is very rewarding.

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  2. Anonymous5:18 AM

    My holiday (except for yesterday which was spent deer hunting) was quiet. Wife and I with 2 grown kids spent the time mostly together. Watched a little TV (preminum movie channels were all open so we had opportunity to find a lot of 'we missed those at the movies' time. A pair of Thanksgiving meals, a little Christmas shopping and that was it.

    I also have found that I am not as indespensible as I thought I was some years back. But for me, that is comforting. I don't want anyone panicking when I have 'left the building'. I want them to carry on. Especially my kids - I want them to live their lives for themselves, not for me and my wife.

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    1. That sounds like the perfect sort of holiday, Anon., and is similar to what happened around her.

      The change in being needed seems to be a new things and something I need to look into more.

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    2. Anonymous, that is a gift you are giving to your grown children.

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    3. Anonymous5:09 AM

      Thank you both for your comments.

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  3. For someone that oft quotes the Stoics you spend a great amount of time pondering the doldrums of life, friend.

    Not everything in our lives is intended to be fun and exciting. Most of my life so far seems more Duty related.

    Caring for parents until you bury them is often not fun but needful. As Robert Heinlen might quote the "Reward is Self-Respect". I'm sure you know the whole quote, something about years of service...

    Duty, something the Samurai might know about.

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    1. Heh heh, I am actually in good company, even with the Stoics: both Cicero and Seneca wrote a great deal about Stoicism yet agonized over such things as well.

      I understand that not everything is life is intended to be fun and exciting. At the same time, the clock is running down and "I wrote another X procedures" is hardly the sort of thing contributing to the betterment of much of anything, other than a single system.

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  4. It seems to me as if you have lost that spark somehow and I am not the one to tell you how to get it back. I was pretty fortunate that my career was in designing things and never was repetitive so I always enjoyed the cycle of seeing one creation start to make it's mark in the world as I was working on the next, totally different one. Sometimes at the end of a project, things were a bit tedious and mind numbing but they were always temporary in my case. When things stopped making me happy and energetic, I was fortunate that I could quit and move onto other things.

    If you were younger, I think I would tell you to take a deep breath and go and reinvent yourself. Try to make rabbits or swords into an income in some fashion. But I know at our age, the odds are a lot steeper in finding success at reinvention. So perhaps your best option is to just accept that the "doing something" part of your day isn't bringing you anything but some money to live on and focus on those things that do bring you joy and hope they offset somewhat.

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    1. Ed, I do have that sense of "losing the spark" - although I do not know what the spark was (would that I did). And yes, it is a little late to reinvent myself at this point. Perhaps a better consideration is how I might be able to reinvent some part of me and see if that rekindling lights something else.

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  5. Anonymous8:46 AM

    Those who are older and have indeed gotten wiser Will always be needed The hard part is to find those who want to learn ie see current world problems

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    1. Anon, that is a good point. I do try to pass along wisdom where I can - subtly, as most people seem to react badly if it is just presented to them. Gentle nudges along the thought path can often do amazing things.

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  6. I'm sorry you're going through that TB. I wish for you that you find a meaningful purpose or direction.

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    1. Thanks Rain. I am trying to view this as an opportunity to do some reconsideration and recalibration. As I effectively have the end of the year coming up, it is a good exercise.

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  7. Mr. Shallow Simple here. Go shooting, take more than one gun. Make one of them a Mauser. Make it at least a half a day. It will put your head in a completely different place.

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    1. TM, I appreciate your directness and the cut of your Jib. Duly noted.

      I will say a good sword practice produces much the same reaction.

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  8. I have struggled with this very topic. I was the goto guy for work and family. I'm pulled back consciously. I'm not that guy anymore. And that really has given me a LOT of time to rethink my life purpose / direction.

    I find a lot of satisfaction cooking snacks for church. Put out some rolls, coffee cake, etc. for the folks to munch before and after church. Something I would never have considered as an option pre-pneumonia . I'm a member now, and got a chance to do a bible class recently. Very encouraging. I'm planning a move so that I can realize a bigger shop to pass along my skills to whoever wants to spend some time to learn them.

    Keep doing what you know to do, and be available for change.

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    1. STxAR, you are my model for this sort of thing (I know, not something you intended). That is a great point: do what you can, where you are - or where you need to be.

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  9. Marathon, not a sprint . . .

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    1. That is always a problem for me, John. I think things should be resolved a great deal more quickly than they usually are.

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  10. Maybe God is "clearing the decks" for the next thing He wants you to do.

    Windwalker (1980) was an enjoyable film that deals peripherally with your concern.

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    1. ERJ, I would like to believe that - but my ability to perceive that in the past has been, shall we say, "flawed".

      I have never heard of that movie - it sounds very interesting (and I love anything done in native dialects).

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  11. I'm in the spot where I'm feeling I need to find my purpose again. Find a job (activity) where I am needed and would be missed if I disappeared. While it's not a comfortable feeling, after recent months, thinking this way is actually an improvement for me. lol

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    1. Becki, I think that is fair given the year you have had.

      The good news is there are lots of places that are that way - mostly volunteer and mostly not paying, but definitely infused with purpose.

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Comments are welcome (and necessary, for good conversation). If you could take the time to be kind and not practice profanity, it would be appreciated. Thanks for posting!