Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This retirement thing~

This retirement thing . . . it seems like it should be so easy, so effortless, so thrilling, to stop the daily grind. It is thrilling; at least I think it will be come September when I'm not following the school buses to work.

But it's not easy.

I had a plan book on my desk for 35 years, one I filled in weekly, scheduling new lessons at 45-minute intervals, meetings, parent conferences, and field trips. I knew what needed to be done and when.

I got up at the same time everyday (5:45 a.m.), ate lunch at the same time (12:06 p.m.) and watched the kids pack their bags for home everyday at 2:15 p.m.

I'm not sorry to give up that regimentation.

But three weeks into the summer, I find myself making lists of things I need to do, and there is so much to do that I can't imagine how I managed while I was working eight hours on top of it all.

There are the household chores, gardening, exercise (aren't retirees supposed to get fitter?), freelance writing, book reviewing, reading the book to review, editing, interviewing and writing for the paper, admin work on a writing site, photography, time with friends, time with family (my aging mother needs a visit), I need an eye exam and the gyn appointment needs to be scheduled-- I'd put it off until I retired-- and I'm supposed to get a bone density test. . . Oh, and this blog. And I know I'm forgetting a lot.

I'm thinking maybe I need a plan book.

After putting in a couple of hours this morning on odds and ends, I forced myself to take a break. I went for a bike ride-- killing two birds with one stone: getting exercise, and taking pictures.

I locked the bike to a tree and walked the perimeter of a pond at Massasoit State Park until the noise of the swimmers and my "to do" list faded. I relaxed-- by myself, but not alone.

I kept silent company with dragonflies, little helicopters that hovered in front of me before darting off; bees intently nosing for nectar; butterflies, ragged wings open in the sun; three curious sunfish side-by-side in the shallows looking up at me through the watery lens. All so busy, but not rushing, just doing what they needed to, one thing at a time, while pausing to bask in the sun.

That's what I need to put in my plan book: Take time to bask.

I'm thinking maybe I'll buy a hammock. I'll pencil that in for tomorrow. First thing.
Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering. ~Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne

Saturday, July 12, 2008

If I could put time in a bottle~

I've always been intrigued by Albert Einstein's theories of relativity. Time is relative, he says, in many, many more words.

I won't be so bold, or foolish, as to interpret, but I'll explain what the theory means to me-- rightly or wrongly. Probably more of the latter

Time is not a fixed rate. It varies relative to speed and mass. In other words, the faster we go the slower time moves. If we could speed up to light's velocity as it cuts through the universe at 186,000 miles per second, time would stop. Would that be called eternity?

I don't get it, but I like thinking about it.

E = MC2

Energy is equal to the mass of an object times the speed of light squared. Eventually if mass were speeded up enough, it would cease to be matter. It would become energy. Think "beam me up, Scotty."

We are energy . . . just moving too slowly to manifest that way. We're mired in matter, time, and gravity.

Time goes more slowly in lower gravitation. Clocks that move tick slower than stationary clocks.

I don't get it, but wow!



I've never mastered time. I don't sense time moving, or rather I do, but then I lose track of it. It moves slowly, and then surprise, it passes on by.

My theory is time speeds up the closer it gets to an important date, a date you've been waiting for. When that day arrives, time is going too fast to stop. It races past, and damn! I missed it. I feel the breeze as time flies.

Twice this month, and we're only on the 12th; I've missed important birthdays of people I care for. Birthdays I saw coming for months, but missed on the very day I'd been waiting for.

The slowest time ever passed for me was the last months of my teaching career. The preceding 34 years were gone in a blink, and then the . . . last . . . year . . . crawled.

This disproves my theory, I see now, because I was waiting for the last day, and it took its sweet time coming. At least I didn't miss it.

So no excuses, no blaming time. This is the way I am, and if I hadn't been this way all my life, I'd be worried, but this is how I've always been.

The fault lies within me . . . or maybe Einstein left out some important part of his theory that I am just now discovering. I'll have to work out why time doesn't affect others the way it affects me.

A friend of mine kindly paints my time issue in a favorable light. "You live in the moment," she says. "You live in the now." And she adds, "I wish I could be like that."

Sigh. No, you really don't.

So, happy birthday, Marilee. Happy birthday, Carter. "Belated birthday" cards were made for the likes of me, and others, who for one reason or another experience time differently.

"Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away."~Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

Saturday, July 5, 2008

I (don't) love a parade~

I didn't bring my camera to the Fourth of July parade. It felt strange not having it hang like a pendant around my neck, but it had rained throughout the night, as only an insomniac would know, and was cool and sprinkley with more rain pending.

I'm not a lover of parades. The wait for them to begin is often longer than the parade itself. I'm not sure there is a point to a parade, really. Without my camera to capture odd bits passing buy, I just watched, snapping mental pictures that would have been awesome photos-- the fish that got away mentality.

Four towns drove fire equipment down the street, lights flashing, sirens screaming. As a kid I'd have loved it, I suppose, the sensory overload and all, but today I just thought, "God help us, and the surrounding towns, if there's a fire!"

Next, old cars. I guess a parade's a place to showcase vintage cars, and some must be beauties, if you appreciate cars. Which I don't. A skinny old man driving a sleek aqua something -- a Pontiac? -- came to a stop and revved the engine. It roared and people laughed. It didn't strike me the least bit funny, just kind of juvenile.

I leaned over to the lady next to me, and said, "And I'll bet as a teen he 'laid rubber.' Peeled out, squealed his tires, and all that."

She laughed. "That type drove me crazy," she said.

Then came an assortment of marchers: one band, a dance troupe, an art club, two town Selectmen, a state rep, horses, dogs in colorful scarves leashed to their owners-- the animals I like-- and a scraggly pack of Cub Scouts riding on a flatbed.

"Why aren't the marching?" whispers my husband, somewhat indignantly.

And I ask in return, "Where are they all?" A dying breed it appears--Boy Scouts.

Finally, floats from competing banks and local businesses-- thinly disguised advertising, of course. One display by "Patriotic Solutions," a plumbing company, which, according to the blurb on the truck, can flush away all your clogs and grease, featured a man sitting on a toilet reading a newspaper.

So, no, I'm not especially fond of parades. I don't see the point at all.

Afterward, I chatted with friends, acquaintances, and strangers, about the weather, art, politics, gas prices, pets, and more politics. I met a woman with a longhaired Chihuahua-- a four-pound handful wearing a tiny hooded sweatshirt. He could sit and shake hands just like a real dog. I patted 4H goats, and watched kids feed them straw. I talked to a man who whittled walking sticks, and another who made pottery, and watched people in the long line to buy fried dough.

It was much later in the rainy afternoon that I understood that parades bring people together for something besides Town Meeting. They provide a place for all ages to share a common event. They make us stop, and wait, and look around, and stand still long enough to smile and shake hands with others who share in our community.

What does that better than a parade?

I still don't love a parade. But I like what they do.

And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.~G. K. Chesterton quotes