Our regional drought continues. I sometimes entertain the idea that the universe is telling me I might as well consider moving to the Southwest–where my children now reside–since the Mid-Atlantic area currently has less rainfall, higher temperatures, and lower humidity than where they are. Granted, this is likely to be a temporary situation; but for the present, I get the chance to walk on crunchy grass and hard soil daily and see how I like it. And to see blue skies for days on end, and see how I like that. What next?
Speculating on “what next” comes rather naturally to me, a reflective sort of human being; but making goals and ambitions toward accomplishment–not so much. Lately, though, the years-ahead thinking has been moved the forefront of my thoughts. It’s all those dang Medicare and Social Security and AARP mailings, in part, and my peers and I heading into the so-called retirement years. Inescapable: the conversations crop up around the dinner party table, while having coffee with a pal, or on a phone call with siblings. People keep asking me what my new goals are. I suppose, having reached the age Social Security (used to) kick in, I was expected to come up with new goals? Must have missed that memo.
Goal: the word is of uncertain origin, says Etymology Online, but appears in the 14th c “with an apparent sense of ‘boundary, limit.’ Perhaps from Old English *gal ‘obstacle, barrier,’ a word implied by gælan ‘to hinder’ and also found in compounds (singal, widgal). That would make it a variant or figurative use of Middle English gale ‘a way, course’…” And there’s the further meaning of a stake that signals the end point of a game. Interesting that goal can be an obstacle, a limitation, an end-point, or a pathway.
If I think of it as a pathway, the question is, what do I want to do? After many years as an educator…do I throw all that experience away and take up something else? My guess is that I’ll find myself imparting information of some kind, one way or another, regardless of employment status. So no major change of course, just a change of scenery, situation, or audience. After all, I will still be writing.
Or are we talking aspirations? What is it I would like to plan for…self care? travel? conferences and retreats? Time to do–what, exactly, and with whom? Here there are perhaps barriers and limitations: can we ever stop worrying about how much will it cost and how much time it will take to achieve the specified goals? And obstacles–you cannot plan for them. Maybe I go blind or get cancer or get hit by a bus. Maybe the apocalypse occurs in my lifetime. That would certainly be the stake that signifies “game over!”
Then again, what if my plans are to get into the woods more, sit under trees more, take more walks, read more books, tend to plants and animals, hang out with my beloveds, write poems? Those things, I want to do in future. But it isn’t as though I am not already doing them now.