I have been thinking a lot about being single at 57 years of age, lately. Without going into unnecessary detail, I was briefly married a long time ago to an unpleasant woman. I have never felt compelled to take a chance on repeating that mistake. That is why I find myself single well after the half-century mark.
Here’s the thing: I am not bothered by being alone. I have always been comfortable with my own company. I believe that this has fostered in me a certain self-sufficiency. I answer to no schedule but that which I choose, and I find a lot of satisfaction in that. I would probably make a really good hermit, as long as my cave had WiFi.
Frankly at my age, it’s hard to imagine having someone around all the time. I have work, church, and friends, so I’m not planning on changing any time soon. I am, as Mary Chapin Carpenter sang, alone but not lonely.
I can’t believe I’ve been away from here for a month! Time to get back into my groove!
As I continue my pursuit of a simpler life, I’m sometimes surprised at how far I have come, and how far I have to go. The thing is, this simpler life thing is not a one-time effort. It is an ongoing process. I think I have picked most of the low hanging fruit and now it is time to reexamine what I have accomplished. My goal is to determine what steps I take next.
For example, I got rid of a lot of unread books and magazines early on, and mostly switched to e-books and magazines. Over the past couple years I’ve accumulated a small stockpile of hardcover books, a couple magazines that aren’t readily accessible as e-zines, and comic books (a store opened up nearby, which is hard to resist). I plan to go through all of my accumulated hardcopy reading material and mercilessly purge. I am also going to investigate the cost effectiveness of a service like Comixology for digital copies of the comic books I like.
I’m also going to go through my clothing again, and anything I haven’t worn in the past year will be donated or turned into paint rags. As much as it pains me, I am also going to inventory my tools, and eliminate duplicates. A couple of winter projects are going to be scanning my photos and ripping my DVDs to a terabyte drive. Clearly, I have my work cut out for me.
But realistically, if a given item is neither useful to me nor a source of joy, I don’t need it taking up space in my life.
I don’t know about you but I get really tired, really fast listening to the news lately. I don’t care which side of the political spectrum with which you align yourself, the bitterness and rancor that permeates the radio and television these days is unlike anything I’ve experienced in my 57 years on this planet. So I have mostly stopped letting the broadcast media rent space in my head and heart for free.
I no longer watch the news on TV in the morning. I mean really, who likes to start their day pissed off? Not me! In the evening I watch a local affiliate for local stuff. To get national news, I read the online versions of state newspapers as well as those of the New York Times and the Washington Post. The advantage of this is simply that I choose what I consume. When I’m in my truck I either listen to a classical music station or my collection of Success Magazine audio interviews. I certainly avoid talk radio, even on NPR, because without fail they are all biased in some manner.
What it all comes down to at the end of the day, is that I have decided that I will control what goes into my head, much like I choose to control what I eat and drink. In both cases, I avoid consuming toxic materials.
Living an intentional life draws from many elements. Simplicity, thoughtfulness, and self-awareness come immediately to mind. As I continue to seek to live a more intentional life, I find that I am almost always on the upward slope of a learning curve. Certainly, I’ve had my share of setbacks. We all do. It’s not an easy and natural condition for most of us, this intentional living.
I am reminded of a scene from The Empire Strikes Back, in which Yoda describes Luke’s lack of focus. “This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. What he was doing.” Focus is a major aspect of intentional living.
It is a good thing, to plan for the future and to be prepared. The inverse is, it isn’t good to ignore the present in favor of the future. If you are going through a tough time seek support and help if needed, and persevere, rather than ignoring the issue and hoping tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow can be a better day for any of us, but in my opinion it takes an intentional effort on our parts for this to come to fruition.
I enjoy listening to and reading from John C. Maxwell’s works. I’ll close with a quote from him: “Intentional living always has an idea. Unintentional living always has an excuse.” I urge you to have ideas, not excuses.
In no particular order of importance here are some things that I learned this past week.
If you have it, you hardly notice it. If you don’t have it, it’s sorely missed. What is it? Good health! Issues lately with my knees and my eye- all mostly resolved-have made that clear to me.
I can only do so much, which has become clear to me at work and in my private life. I’ve recently been maxed out at my job and my off-work “free” time has been appropriated. I need to learn to say “no”. Or perhaps, “NO!”.
The downside to cooking a lot of something to eat all week is culinary boredom. A better choice may be to cook smaller batches of several things. And hot sauce-hot sauce is good!
Worry is a total bummer. Worry about things you can’t control or even influence, more so.
A simple “thank you” and card can really make someone’s day, which makes both parties happy.