Shades of Grey

Restlessness. That’s what it is, right? It’s not necessarily a permanent change of heart. It’s not necessarily a signal that it’s time to move on. But the “seven-year-itch” seems to infect  many aspects of our lives. In years past, I have tended to long for a significant change every seven years or so. It was true of the time I spent in several jobs, the length of time we owned various of our homes, and the time I spent living in various cities. I couldn’t set my calendar by those upheavals, but there was a correlation between that period of time and major dislocations in my life.

I’ve lived in Hot Springs Village for about seven years.

So maybe my restlessness does represent a permanent change of heart. Maybe I am ready to uproot myself. Try a new place. Become a new person. Leave some of my baggage behind. At some point, though, I think moving on begins to feel more like it equates to abandonment; both abandoning and being abandoned.  And the older I get, the attraction of change is not quite as “shiny” as it once was. I could talk myself into either exploring another adventure or settling in to what has become familiar. I just haven’t been able to decide which is more appealing.

Yesterday, during lunch with a friend, I mentioned I had been thinking, again, of selling my house, buying an RV, and hitting the road. My friend, who has extensive experience as an RVer, told me a bit about her experiences. She showed me photos of the RV she bought not long ago. We talked at length about what’s involved in living and traveling in and RV. Following our conversation, my previous interest in the idea grew stronger. I looked online at several RVs and she forwarded links to others. During the course of last night and early this morning, I questioned myself about whether I am really serious or simply daydreaming. I have not come up with a definitive answer.  I just don’t know.

I promised myself (and others) I would not make any firm decisions about what to do with the rest of my life until at least a year after my wife’s death. But in recent weeks, especially, it has occurred to me over and over that I may not have the luxury of letting the passage of time guide me. “Give it time” is great advice for someone younger than I, but it does not make as much sense for someone my age.

I think some of my acquaintanceships where I live have begun to morph into friendships. For me, that sort of transition takes a very long time to develop. Moving, whether to a new place or into a nomadic lifestyle, could and probably would derail that evolution. And I may not have time again to plant the seeds and hope they grow. My history of sowing the seeds of friendship has not been especially successful except for a few notable exceptions. For reasons a psychologist might be able to explain, most of the seeds I’ve sown in the past seven years have sprouted almost exclusively into friendships with women. Not that that is particularly relevant to whether I stay or go.

My thinking is composed of fragments like pieces of unrelated jigsaw puzzles. I can’t get the pieces to fit together. The appeal of moving on is strong, but so is the draw of stability and connections to people. Yesterday, during lunch, my friend and I both said we had felt like we had found “our people” here (a tiny pocket of progressive thinking within a sea of deeply malignant ultra-conservatism). How strong, though, are those bonds? Are they like strands of almost-impossible-to-break twisted wire or are they as fragile as a delicate crystal Christmas ornament?

I suspect anyone who regularly reads my thoughts is as tired of my on-again, off-again vulnerability as I am. I just can’t seem to find a steady spot where I can get my footing. An anchor to either keep me firmly attached to realty or pull me toward the bottom is what I need.

Today promises to be cloudy and warm, though the humidity shouldn’t be as stifling as it has been. To clear my head, I need sunshine and a crisp, cool day. That’s an argument for change, in that the weather today will not be cooperative. Maybe I’ll stick my head in the refrigerator for a while.

Grey is either an extremely dark white or a very light black. I’m almost sure of it.



About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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