We’ve done it! That sea-change thing. We’ve moved to Noosa Heads, we’re free of mortgage, kids and work commitments and we have a little cottage in the back blocks that takes ten minutes to clean (unless we put our glasses on, and since we can never find them, it’s not a problem). If you don’t know Noosa, it’s worth googling, because it’s a lovely little town that’s grown around a wild headland that some far-sighted citizens designated national park…home to joggers, surfers, koalas, turtles, dolphins, exotic lizards, and folk like us on the morning walk.
The only downside is that we had to become fairly decrepit before we could afford to stop work, but as long as we are lucky enough to have good health we have a blank canvas on which to paint the rest of our lives. No excuses now for putting it off till we have the time. We have the time…or thought we did. So how come it’s already past Easter, even though Christmas only just finished. What on earth happened to February and March and why couldn’t I stop April going down the same vortex of vagueness?
It’s not because we’re busy joining things. Truth is we’re having trouble just joining the dots, let alone the bowls club, bridge society or mahjong group. What have we been doing??? Let’s see…by the time we’ve had a walk, then a coffee, wandered round Aldi for a while, tidied up, had a nap, thought about dinner and had an afternoon swim, it’s time to see what’s on TV. Not such a bad day, but meaningful? Hardly. Maybe all that longed-for lolling about isn’t what we wanted after all!
Actually all this freedom is a bit daunting because although we have the setting and the characters for the next act in life’s drama, we don’t have the script. And as for the plot, well we haven’t seen that for a while. When we had jobs and some kids and a house to fix up, the drama wrote itself. Whole years, decades even, could be taken up with figuring out what to give everyone to eat, wash for everyone to wear, with forging homework without being detected, marking homework that is probably forged, and generally running fast just to keep up. Outings consist of trips to the hardware or the plant nursery, or cheering from the sidelines of some sporting event and every now and then going on holiday or to a party or some friends’ place and drinking too much. We didn’t need to think about how to spend our time, time spent itself and there was always loads to say and do.
So now the time is just given to us, and we are discovering that like most things in life, it’s the effort that makes it worthwhile, not the thing itself. If we haven’t worked for it, Friday night is just another night and even the lovely Dr Blake Mysteries can’t give it the same frisson of achievement.
We have some friends who plan to start a Friday night drop-in at their place and maybe they are on to something. We have to make the meaning for ourselves, to write our own schedules, treat life as if it’s our job. And it’s a serious business, because the most challenging part is that we have to confront our selves without the distractions. You can’t expect to just drift into the next phase. No, turns out we’ll need to work a bit harder on it, because it really is now or never. As seasoned procrastinators we’re pretty good at the “never” but it’s time to work on the “now”. A few suggestions:
- Mark special events – however small (like finding the remote after three days of fruitless searching). We recommend an Aldi melting moment if something special happens. That might sound bonkers until you go and try them yourself…seriously
- Say yes to everything, (except the offer of new roof tiles over the phone). Shall we go for a walk/bike ride/movie/coffee/trip to Sydney? Yes must be the default mode because it’s surprisingly easy to find a lazy evening in front of the telly more alluring…and another, and another…oops, that’s my life…gone.
- Drink all that wine you’ve been saving (not all at once). But the day you’ve been saving it for is today. Even if it’s corked and only fit for casserole it’s an excuse to invite some friends over.
- Ditto with the clothes you’ve been saving. Wear that white linen jacket to the shops while you still fit into it. And if it no longer fits, give it to the Salvos along with all the other things you don’t need.
- Go out for dinner/ breakfast/a picnic. Don’t wait for a special occasion. The next one could be your wake!
- Do what you love…now: If you want to spend all day reading a book, or watching the snooker, do it.
- Make something: a meal, a garden, a painting, a photo album, a model of the Colosseum. Nice to have something to show for those hours that just passed.
- Write/email/phone/skype/text your friends & family. Relationship is the yeast of life. If you keep it warm it expands and before you know it, you have a cottage loaf. (No need to worry if you’re gluten intolerant it’s only a metaphorical one)
- Do something for someone else. And bonus…according to the research, it will lift your mood too.
- Do a blessings audit…you always have more than you think.
OK you lot can try all that worthy stuff …let us know how it goes because just as we were becoming all zen…I even went to a yoga class… another big distraction has come our way. Our daughter is getting married, and that’s a good enough excuse to spend a bit of time in Europe. Phew! We don’t have to confront our inadequacies for a while because we’ll get all caught up in tickets and packing and fretting and re-packing and removing all jangly things for the airport screenings. Next blog will be from London…now that’s what I call a distraction!