I have been inhabiting a kind of limbo for quite some time now. Yes, the cancer diagnosis contributed to this feeling of suspension, and I realized it would take some time before I could hit the reset button but, if I put my honesty hat on, I will have to admit my life felt purposeless long before the cancer.
Purposeless is too big of a word maybe, directionless more likely – I don’t talk about it much because I could be accused of first world problems: I am not struggling from paycheck to paycheck and, after trimming some expenses, I was able to take the month of January off and deal with all my medical appointments in some peace. Still, I feel purposeless. Or without much direction. Or, better still, with no higher calling driving me. I do a million things a day, I take care of my house, my family, my animals; I cook for money; I volunteer at the hospital; I write the blog and I am not at a loss for filling my time. In fact, I wish I had more free time but, aside from writing, nothing I do makes me feel whole. I just do it. Pleasant enough. Not particularly exciting. Need the paycheck.
To some extent, sofagirl feels the same. And other women in my immediate circle, to different degrees, share in this sense of being slightly lost or not completely satisfied. So. Here we are, women in our 50s, capable women with tons of experience, knowledge, energy and willingness, a bit unsure how to best utilize our gifts. This is what we know:
- life is short. Now, actually, short-er.
- why, then, waste it on things, people and activities we don’t care for? (having too much of a sense of responsibility plays a huge part in answering this one).
sofagirl is convinced we share a similar trait, maybe an exquisitely feminine one: we are driven by the need to see things to their completion, steering them towards the best possible outcome, even when it might have been more sensible to not embark at all or to abandon ship before the eye of the storm.
And we get pulled away from what we really wanted to do, even if it is not clear at all what it is we wanted to do in the first place.
As women, we have a tendency to fill our time, because there is never a shortage of tasks, mundane or otherwise, that can be seen to completion. In my case, I feel an urgency “ to do” borne out of habit and, now, of fear that time is dwindling. Better keep on going in case there is not enough time, even if that time gets filled that don’t excite me.
So. Before I restart the engine of my everyday life and accelerate at full speed, I decided I can conveniently hide behind the six weeks of radiation treatment I just started, and pause with purpose: work less, think less but open up more. To the possibility of spending two hours reading a book, for instance, without being saddled with guilt; of sitting on the stoop watching ants carry crumbs back and forth; of baking cakes for no reason (there is an entire hospital staff waiting to be fed and fattened anyway).
I am lucky. Days stretch ahead of me. Not necessarily to be planned and filled. Like an empty vessel, I can wait for the rain to come and fill it. Maybe bringing purpose along.