Slip, slip sliding away?

Longing to be elsewhere, our minds settle, we’re not enough, or we can’t do enough, it’s all so empty. The problem with this kind of thinking: When the awaited event does occur, happiness may not come with it. This motive of trying to fix the current moment leaves you in a perpetual cycle of dissatisfaction.

Elisha Goldstein

Looking back on my rather long past, I see where life has been a polarity between “longing to be elsewhere” and the creeping rigidity but security of wanting to stay put and not be or go anywhere other than where I am.

What truly re-enforces this is the unwilling but necessary move from the family home of 25 years, where I took care of my mother for half that time, to a totally different apartment and neighborhood, which though familiar and comforting in itself, represents a complete unmooring of my present and my previous life.

The unsettling thing about all this is how deeply rooted I have become to a neighborhood and location that has been completely, and in every sense, what I always thought “home” could be like, although not my idealized vision by any means. That would have been a reatored 19th century farmhouse out in the country, or perhaps a bit more realistically, a restored Victorian in the historic district of a small town or city. Dreams!

So whereas decades ago when I was younger, I was always hoping for a better job (that often meant any job), a better life, a better future, in other words the present job, place or moment was always somehow temporary, a launching pad to the future containing who knew what. At one point I in my early early journalism career, I thought perhaps I had found what I wanted, what I was looking for, but happiness didn’t come and what I found was lost quite dramatically.

Now, forty years later and retired, there is no awaited job, career, or utopian place I aspire to. I can remain in this city where I’ve lived for the last 27 years and not worry about where happiness and contentment will come from. It may not even come to me —like most people I think I will always struggle — but I will at least be settled in a place I call home. No more temporary fixes. I know what has to be done; I know where to seek answers; and I know I’m much closer to the end of my journey. That knowledge speeds up the last years of life greatly, so much so that it’s more then ever incumbent to live each day that we have our minds and physical health to the fullest. I am trying, but how quickly the days and weeks slip by.


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John Van Dalen

John Van Dalen

Former newspaper reporter and editor, teacher, information specialist, photographer, generalist, lifelong learner, longtime online journaler.