Every year, fall is the time of year when I try to figure out what to do with my life. Every fall, without fail, whether I want to or not, I find myself taking stock of my life, find it riddled with flaws, and try to determine what to do next. I’m basically a person who can only feel better about things if I am actively involved in taking action to correct a perceived problem. When my brother DB was little, my mom used to tell him “do not present me with a problem, present me with a solution.” While she never told me this, it’s an ethos that has been passed down, and one which I find myself passing down to C.
So every fall I sit down with my life, with whatever goals I may have had in the past, whether they be goals I have purposefully discarded, goals that I have not achieved, goals I think I should have had but for some reason have not had, goals that I actively regret not having, or goals that float anew to the surface of consciousness, and try to figure out what to do next.
My heart beats fast. My breath grows short. The myriad realm of possibilities, potentialities, options, doors left open but never walked through, doors that I feel are closed to me for whatever reason (like I’m probably not going to win a Nobel in Physics or dance for the Bolshoi), rise up before me like so many ghosts of present, past, and future, and I get nervous.
What do I do? What do I DO? I ask this question. I peruse graduate programs. I think about post-bacc in order to qualify for graduate programs, I look at tuition, course work, faculty. Then I think, but wait! You are qualified! You are qualified to do lots of things! Then I try to figure out what those things are, what my qualifications are, and what I can do.
Is it too late to learn guitar and form a band? Go to space? Learn calculus? Diffy q? Web design? Run for office? Should I get another masters? PhD? Buy a house? Embark upon a new career? Find a new job? What kind of job? Start a new business? Take up sewing? Quilting? Swimming? Para-sailing? Join an expedition up the Orinoco? Should I ask people about the things that they do? Should I perhaps do those things? Move out of town? What action do I take? WHAT?
My husband is altogether different. He is content with delayed action. For him, if the action can be imagined, there’s scarcely a reason to take it. Imagining the action is almost as good as taking the action, so you may as well imagine it for longer, hash out all the details, imagine all the pitfalls and reap the mental benefits of having taken the action in the first place. When he decides to do a thing, he has every intention of imagining it through to the end, at which point the action may or may not be deemed worthy of actually being taken.
I get jumpy. I submit work to all of the things playwrights submit work to in fall. I write personal statements. I look at my notes to decide what play to write next. I have lots of notes. I do non-arts things. I have three part plans about those non-arts, practical seeming things. I have three part plan backups in case the first three part plan doesn’t work out the way I anticipated. I know what each, potential, three part plan will look like in 5 years if carried through to its logical conclusion.
I was raised with options, so many big, glorious options, all bright and shiny in their crinkly cellophane. I reached for the ones that drove me wild with passion, each time, over and over. Should I still do that? The kid raised in optimistic, prosperous, follow-your-bliss America, says yes, but the mom of a 3 year old, who just wants to have a place her kid can call home to for the next twenty years, a place that can be refinanced to pay for college, says take the practical way.
The thing is, both things are right.
(So what do I do?)
Ps I’m not alone in having recurring fall feelings. Here’s a killer post about it from Uncomfortably Honest and Honestly Uncomfortable.
We helped a friend with a fundraising project. She’s trying to get money to create resources for artists, and she asked me what I needed, as a resource, to make art. We tried to look as harried as possible, which was not really a stretch.