Perhaps I flatter myself that you think of me, but you may have noticed that my postings to this nugget of literary goodness have dwindled as of late. Gone are the weeks when I was able to get at least two blog posts up, and several witty Tweets and Facebook postings to boot. I just covered one eye and peeked at my WordPress dashboard, and egads, my last post was on September 27th.
But whether it shows or not, I put a lot of thought into these posts. In fact, at times I would compare producing them to giving birth. After a while I just want them out, even if potentially paralytic drugs or surgery are required, but I’m also a
lot little on the type-A side, and I can’t just spew words and hit “publish”. So I walk around town and I contemplate, and I write a little, and then I come back to what I’ve written and hope to find some meaning there, unfortunately sometimes not for days.
A New York Times article recently made the social media rounds. It told the story of a man who made a video during an emergency on a JetBlue flight in which one of the engines blew and the cabin filled with smoke. He obediently strapped on his oxygen mask and promptly pulled out his iPhone and recorded the entire event for YouTube. I just checked YouTube, and as I write this over a million people have watched this guy’s video.
By the way, I’ve heard more than enough about the airline at this point to convince me to avoid JetBlue at all costs. But I digress.
The ultimate point of the New York Times article was to ponder the question of whether we are all spending our time recording history instead of living it. While more than many people I appreciate the importance of documenting our lives, I agree that we might consider some restraint as we load the cloud with footage of our kid struggling through “Fur Elise” at a piano recital or another moment of a cat doing anything.
I once watched a fellow tourist videotape (yes, this was in the days of actual video recorders with actual, tiny tape cartridges in them) an entire Balinese dance. It was well over 2 hours of subtle head-bobs, foot stomping, and eye movements (Balinese dance is not for adrenaline junkies, I need to point out). Three thoughts kept me from concentrating on the show: 1.) Who is going to have to watch this once this guy gets home? 2.) God, the light from his screen is annoying!, and 3.) Does he get AT ALL the irony of watching what’s happening real-time in front of him on a 2″x3″ screen?
So I’ve been living my life, clearly as opposed to recording it, and it’s gotten quite full, actually. In the years following his retirement, my father-in-law was fond of saying that he did not know how he ever had time for a job, because his retirement activities kept him so busy. At the time we laughed uproariously over the idea that one could actually be busier in retirement than in full-time employment. I am now, however, perhaps seeing his side of things.
I’m sure you’re all getting misty-eyed over the thought of how busy I am while I spend a year not working. It’s doubtful that there are any adults who haven’t fantasized about how they’d like to pull a Johnny Paycheck and tell the boss where to put it. But how would you spend your time, if you weren’t working? Would you volunteer? Would you learn to knit? Feed the homeless? Drink more? Drink less? Write a book? Exercise until your abs resurface?
All have their merits, although some are more worthwhile than others. Ultimately you have to decide what is most important to you and prioritize. Because the honest truth is that once you announce to the world that you have free time it won’t be, for long. There are so many things to do here in San Miguel – take art classes, learn Spanish, volunteer, hike, bike, eat, drink, study culture and history, or just sit in Parque Benito Juarez and enjoy the brilliant fall weather.
As a veterinarian I have some unique gifts to share, and it’s never hard to find someone who needs them, and there’s certainly plenty of need in Mexico. I volunteer every Thursday at the local animal shelter. It’s been extremely heart-wrenching but also rewarding. I’ve seen more parvo virus in 2 months than I saw in seven years of practice in Colorado. I have NEVER seen distemper in my life, but I’ve seen several cases here already. Both are preventable with appropriate vaccination. But whether people don’t know or don’t care about vaccinating their animals, many of them don’t in Mexico, and seeing a puppy die a completely avoidable death is terrible, and I’ve seen it much too often. But I’ve also spayed and neutered lots of animals, and treated lots of sick ones.
I got a free pass to go to a big veterinary meeting being held about an hour and a half away in Leon, and Roxanda, the vet from the shelter, and I went together. It was very cool being back with colleagues, walking through the exhibition hall, and hearing a few lectures. In the weirdest case of small-world syndrome I’ve ever seen, one of my own professors from CSU, Howie Seim, was lecturing on surgery, and (bonus!) in English!
I’ve also been able to get a regular workout routine established, which is wonderful. Three days a week Wiley and I work out at a gym just down the street from Wiley IV’s school. We kiss him goodbye, then workout, finishing up just before nine in the morning. Add on the walking I do, usually at least seven or eight miles daily if you believe my FitBit, and I’m probably in the best shape of my life.
About six weeks ago I began to hear about a woman here in town who teaches circus tricks to adults and kids. Two of my friends harassed me into going with them one morning. It was scary and hard and painful, and I was hooked. The instructor, Ceci Corona, was a ballerina for years, and now she runs a local circus troupe called Gravityworks, and teaches circus to kids and middle-aged moms with a death wish, like me. After the first few classes I felt as though I had been run over, and most decidedly did not look like Cirque du Soleil material on the equipment. But I’m starting to get the hang of things, and it’s amazing how you develop strength in places that even working out with weights doesn’t touch. I doubt that I’ll run away and join the circus anytime soon, but I’m loving learning some cool moves and becoming more flexible.
And there’s lots of other stuff keeping me busy, like twice weekly Spanish tutoring, various school obligations and meetings (I somehow accepted an office in the PTA at Wiley’s school), and shuttling Wiley IV to guitar lessons or art class and to and from school. I also got inducted into a group of women writers who meet monthly to drink wine, eat dinner, and share our writings. Most of us would like to write a book and the group members help each other to coalesce ideas into themes and outlines. Oh yeah, and I decided I need to learn how to knit. In my free time.
Add to all of this my on-going obligation to CSU’s vet school admissions committee, for whom I’ll soon be reviewing over 150 applications, and the fact that I agreed to write copy for each of Wiley’s three company newsletters, and maybe you’ll start to see why I’ve been doing more living life and less writing about it. But I’m taking it all in, and keeping my eyes open, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the ride.