Thinking with my Fingers on a Cold Saturday Morning

The nights suddenly grew colder. Days finally relented, at least for a spell, allowing the temperatures to slip into much more comfortable ranges. The thermometer this morning claims the temperature has just edged down to thirty-five degrees. The weather forecast calls for the sun to heat the air to a comfortable sixty-two degrees later in the day. With mostly clear skies, decorated this morning with clouds tinted orange and red, the day promises to be comfortable. I spent much of the day yesterday in a fruitless attempt to relocate fallen leaves from in front of, beside, and behind the house. Though I got the job done, the trees are far from finished dropping leaves and the enormous piles I flushed away with the blower have the potential of returning from whence they came with a single gust of wind. Still, I feel obliged to attempt to keep the grounds of my tiny estate modestly well-kempt, if for no other reason than to demonstrate my concern for neighbors’ senses of social decorum.

I’ve allowed this weather to arrive without having first had the now-empty propane cylinders refilled and without having checked the batteries and valves in the gas-log fireplace. Such is life. As long as the heating system performs according to plan, that’s fine. Speaking of which, I haven’t had the seasonal maintenance done, either.

I’ve taken on responsibility for the Unitarian Universalist Village Church newsletter, beginning with the December issue. What was I thinking? I now really need to unload some other responsibilities, lest I feel constricted and confined. While I think it will be fun, I think it will take time to get used to the deadlines it imposes. Deadlines. As I used to tell my communications staff when I ran an organization that published multiple magazines and newsletters. “Deadlines mean either the publication goes out by the deadline or you do.” That was a pretty damn nasty attitude. I’ve mellowed slightly since then. Back then, a missed deadline was akin to the end of the world. Today, I understand more about flexibility and the impact of uncontrollable circumstance. Those life lessons should come earlier in life and should ripen into wisdom before geezerhood arrives.

A question posed by a Facebook page (“Intelligence is Sexy”) gave me reason to ponder my life last night. The question was: “Do you ever think about going where nobody knows you and starting a new life?” Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I think of that often. I think of that almost every day. Only after reading the question did it occur to me how frequently I’ve considered that fantasy. I wonder if it’s as common among other people as with me?  Several respondents replied with something like this: “I used to think so but realized that I kept taking me.” Hmm, there’s that. Maybe it’s not the place one runs from, but the person. One cannot escape oneself. If one tries, he ought to realize there’s something amiss, not in the place, but in the person. Though, admittedly, something can be horribly amiss in the place, as well; when one lives in a social and political stew capable of drowning decency and empathy is boiling contempt, one gets the sense that location matters.

All right, another idea that’s been percolating in my head for many, many years. Co-housing. What is co-housing? According to the Co-Housing Association of the United States, “Cohousing is an intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space.” Of late, I’ve read quite a lot about co-housing for seniors, people who opt in their later years to live in intentional communities with compatible friends and others, sharing communal space (kitchen, living areas, etc.), but maintaining their own private spaces (bedrooms, bathrooms, studies, etc.). The idea has, for years, appealed to me. Especially for seniors, the idea has enormous potential benefits. Groups of compatible people living privately in communal living can serve as support networks for one another. Co-housing provides a “ready-made” social environment that does not require over-commitment. I’m keeping it on my radar by keeping the association’s website readily available. Hot Springs Village (or, for that matter, the villages around Lake Chapala in Mexico) might be ideal spots for developing co-housing communities.

About John Swinburn

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