A few years back, someone asked me what my goals were. I said, “By the time I’m forty, I want to publish a book and get back to the weight I was on my wedding day.”
Well, I accomplished both of those goals with six months to spare. But then a lot of things happened in those spare six months that I didn’t expect – the death of my father, my divorce from my husband – which shook me up and perhaps didn’t allow me to revel in my success the way I’d have liked. Now, on the cusp of turning forty, I’m looking around asking myself, “What next? What matters to me? To what am I looking forward?”
The truth is, I’m not sure. Right now I’m heart-wounded and tumbled upside down, and the everyday routines that formed my life are all unnecessary. I don’t need to cook anything for anyone, or pick up dry cleaning, or remove my dirty socks from the poor unoffending floor. My father’s long crisis is over, and there’s nothing to be done for him.
I’m free. But is free a good thing?
I’ve been told more than once that I’m an object of envy. This is a deeply uncomfortable thing to hear. I’m definitely conscious of how lucky I’ve been in my life. I’m healthy, stable, and have been given many opportunities, while others I’ve managed to carve out for myself. I’ve accomplished a lot in 39.99 years. Yet I can’t say that now is a very good time for me. I can’t call myself happy, or secure, or serene. Three months after my last parent’s death, one month after my husband and I split, I don’t feel safe, or optimistic, or raring to go. I still feel that sense of shock, that inner earthquake, and all I want to do is dig all ten claws into the dirt and hold on for dear life.
I’m grateful for many things – my dear friends, the new leaves on the aspens slapping softly together outside my window, the whistling hummingbirds’ return. I take delight in the little pink-padded feet of my rascal orange tabby as he shovels them into my face at five a.m. I’m fortunate to spend springtime in stunning Santa Fe, and for excellent books to read in my wildly unkempt backyard under endless cloud-strewn skies.
And yet, the sense of not belonging to anyone, or owing myself to anything urgent… it’s unnerving. I’d like to come to appreciate it, and I hope that I soon will. Until then, I’m untethered and in search of I know not what.