The Third Third

No Time to Write

It’s getting increasingly difficult to find the time to write about The Third Third, the more I live into its issues. It takes a pretty big chunk of time to attend to the parent we moved to town, for example. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful he is here.  But, Geez! (*Where’s my sweater?  I need some cash.  My TV isn’t working right.  When will you hook up my computer?  I’m missing my nail clipper. You’re late; the bridge game starts at 11:30.*)  And I still want to be actively (appropriately, of course) involved in my grown kids’ lives -- Skype-ing with the one in Cambodia for the summer, catching up via email about another’s academic conference, drooling over pictures of our new grandson and planning our next trip to visit, and following another’s relationship and career developments with what I hope is not too many questions or too many phone calls. Their news, their voices, are the greatest joy in my life, but at the same time it seems like my husband and I spend hours keeping track of everyone and asking ourselves if we’re saying the right things or doing the right things by these kids, even after 37 years!  We are also still seeking balance and boundaries in our daily living, now that my husband has retired.  How many hours can either of us spend on our computers without  being anti-social or, worse, aggressively, I’m-busier-than-you-are?  Doesn’t he need some totally unaccounted for time alone, the way I do?  Am I churlish to wish for it,and when I do, do I really have to live with the reminder that some day all too soon, one of us will be all alone and accountable to no one, and with no one to care when we come home or what we’ve been doing?  I’d rather not go there.  In the meantime, we have trips to plan and adventures to explore and we’re finding it hard to move off Square One.  Because of the retirement, my dad, my back surgery, and the number of kids with balls in the air and decisions to be made, we don’t seem to have the confidence or the energy to make plans.  Everything seems terribly uncertain.  (Where will the kids be living then?  Can we leave Dad for three weeks?  If we planned a 40th anniversary trip including the family, do you think the kids could get the time off?  Can we afford a big trip in this economy on retirement income; shouldn’t we wait a year to see how we’re doing?) And, in fact, the news from around the globe is so dire, our emotional response may be right-on.  A resort?  A cruise?  A course of study at Oxford? These sound decadent, almost unseemly.  And yet, they could be healthy, too -- for each of us and for our marriage.  At the moment, we’re doing a good job of sharing the chores, but there’s got to be some time for fun, some spiritual refueling, too. I’ve made friends a major component of The Third Third, especially women friends.  They make me giggle and laugh out loud.  They are wonderful -- bright, caring, fun and affirming.  Thus my weekly bridge game -- alas, it will be decades before any of us are ready to earn any Master points -- is sacrosanct.  I simply have to make time to “go out and play,” and they do, too.  If we’re in town, we play.  In fact, if any three of us is in town, we grab a sub and play.  It may be hard to schedule lessons, or dinner parties,  or committee meetings, but there is always a spot on the calendar for our game.   There’s also always room for a congregation of my “church ladies,” as they are stimulating, challenging, delightful new friends with whom I am sharing a new, deeper exploration of my faith.  And my old friends who are scattered about -- I make time for them, too -- mostly via email where we write long missives about events of the last six months or so though our conversation is, deliciously, as if we just talked yesterday. Exercise is my other new religion (bridge being the first) and again, it takes its daily toll of time.  But according to everything I read, there’s no other “medicine” that does so much to clear the mind, fight the stereotypical physical losses of aging, strengthen bones and muscles and systems, and put you in charge of every step you take (or at least feel in charge of every step you take) -- none.  I have a bit of empirical evidence, too, in the recovery time my sister and brother-in-law and I all experienced after major surgeries this month.  It was amazing how quickly we were back on our feet and feeling normal, even at ages 60, 62, and 67 - simply because we all work out at the Y! So, then, throw in breakfast, lunch, and dinner; bill-paying; time spent listening to the message that my call is very important and will be answered by the next available agent; answering emails; reading newspapers and magazines; shopping for and reading books; the annual physical, teeth-cleaning, and PAP smear; watching baseball games and Jon Stewart; and the occasional play or concert -- and all the time that I was going to (1) spend writing for The Third Third and/or (2) invest in a grand make-the-world-a-better-place-in-the-course-of-my-third-third project has been exhausted.  At least so far this year. I am trying not to be resentful or disappointed. In fact, I think a quite positive spin may apply to this turn of events.  It may be that I am “living in the present” (as they say), that I am actually experiencing The Third Third and not merely observing and writing about it. It has been easier, at other times in my life, to play a role, do my duty, and then step back and take notes, rather than to participate whole-heartedly.  This time around I don’t want to miss anything -- not even that extra trip to CVS to pick up Dad’s nail clipper.  My goal remains the same -- to both live it and write about it.  But until I learn how to better manage my time and my life (not to mention the lives that intersect with mine), please let these thoughts as posted serve as an apology and/or excuse for not writing more, or more often.
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