The Third Third

My Walkabout

Does anyone else out there remember Evonne Goolagong, the professional tennis player from Australia? Unfortunately for her, what I remember most is not the 14 Grand Slam titles she won in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, but her tendency to go on what sportscasters called a “walkabout” in the middle of a match or tournament. I’ve been there – on my own kind of “walkabout” – for most of the summer. I apologize for this lack of discipline and focus, and for not keeping this site more current. I have no particularly good excuse; it’s just been a passive kind of time: I watched the Olympics, and then I watched the Democrats, and then I watched the Republicans, and now I am watching the stock market. I’ve also been watching what I fear is Modern Medicine failing in its fight against my friend Jan’s ovarian cancer. Though she is still strong and brave and hopefully taking chemotherapy again, I am exhausted. It’s embarrassing, and it is oh-so-very real. As I think about all of this -- (I didn’t stop thinking; I only stopped writing) -- I see a pattern I don’t particularly like. It is a bit of grandiosity on my part which may or may not have been born of the sixties (the *19*60’s, not my chronological decade) from which I have inferred that I *should* be able to do something as perfect as gymnastics or high-diving; that I *might* have been able to succeed in politics; that I *should* be able to develop the strategy or at least the words to make voters understand how much is at stake in this presidential election; that I *should* better understand economics and financial markets or at least know what to do about our investments; and that, by now, *Someone should* know more about curing cancer. I lie awake at night wondering how I could have lived so long and know so little. I feel responsible, somehow, for the state of the world. My response is not to do what I *can* do, but lament what I *cannot*. This is the nature of my walkabout. And this is not OK. It is a conflict I have known before – at work when simply reporting wasn’t enough, when parenting kept me from more of a career – but one that I sense age might be able to resolve. Now, with neither 9 to 5 nor 24/7 responsibilities, I have the time and freedom and, thank God, the good health and energy, to push myself whole-heartedly back into the game. With any luck, I also have the wisdom to realize I cannot and do not have to Save the World; I must simply engage it, and play to my strengths which, right now, include being wife, mother, friend, and writer and being open to new possibilities. So I am starting again, metaphorically pushing the “refresh” button on the computer, and setting new deadlines for myself to keep this site timely. I am no longer walking about; I am stepping forward. Please join me.
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