Somewhere along the way a bunch of us were sold a bill of goods. We were led to believe that as we got older, life would get easier and slow down to a more reasonable pace. There would be time for leisurely breakfasts spent poring over newspaper crossword puzzles. Mid-day coffee klatches with friends. Volunteering for worthy causes. Running marathons.
There would quality time spent guiding, nurturing, and spoiling grandchildren. Not battling scheduling conflicts between play dates (his) and work deadlines (ours). There would be lots of time before his life got regimented with the rigors of a kindergarten schedule. Not so. The impending birth of child number two in late November will further busy everyone’s lives. But if anything can hit pause It’s the joy of holding a precious baby against one’s chest.
I thought there would be time to read all the subscription magazines coming into the house. At this moment I have a stack of forty-one magazines awaiting my attention. And that doesn’t count the weekly newspapers and daily Edmonton Journal or required reading.
What about the illusion of people sitting on a patio or deck or dock or wing chair reading a novel? Reading? We were led to believe there would be time to write a novel. The best I seem to manage these days is listening to audio books when I’m alone on the road.
Or what about the retirees camped at a lake or hitting the open road, living the good life in an RV? Or becoming snowbirds and spending the worst of our winters in Arizona or California?
we’re not lazy people. We’ve worked hard all our lives. We haven’t lived beyond our means. Like much of our Baby Boomer generation we’ve been adherents of the delayed gratification principle. If you couldn’t afford a new car, ATV, boat, cabin, vacation, cell phone, or stereo system you didn’t get one. You waited til other debts were paid off or bought first things first. Or more likely you did without.
Though I can’t find proof of it, I’m sure it was author Carol Shields who said that in the average life there would be time to do it all. To work and play and contribute and do all that we truly want to do. At the time I remember being both charmed and reassured by the idea. Now I’m not so sure. Hundreds of times each day we make choices. If I choose to read a magazine I’m not exercising, doing a Sudoku puzzle, playing with Grady, or writing that novel. If I choose to volunteer, in that dedicated time, I’m not traveling or visiting family or working the soil. If I choose Netflix I’m not making money or cleaning or reading.
So, perhaps the answer lies in the quality of our choices. I no longer believe we’ve got all the time in the world. Now I simply hope our health and money lasts as long as we do, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites..