Time to reflect – taking stock and making plans

The idea of ‘where to next?’ has been keeping me busy.

It’s that time of year where I like to take time and consider where I’m at and where I’m going.

Although it felt a lot like summer in Perth yesterday, it’s spring. Trees are in bud. Ducklings are trying to fall into line behind their parents.

Distant shot of duck with four ducklings
Ducks in a row … of sorts

To celebrate the season, I’ve indulged in some low-level spring-cleaning. It’s probably not a surprise that that’s code for I’ve been sorting through books and paperwork. I’m trying to sort wardrobes, too.

I should probably take it up a notch and clean some windows. Perhaps even pull some of the flourishing weeds.

Looking around, I can see I’m not alone. Introspection and planning are the order of the season.

The year is nearly done and I’m not sure I’ve done enough with what January promised.

I should turn that around.

I’m not sure I’ve done enough with what I promised January.

It’s not just my promises to January, though. I’m coming up to a half-milestone birthday just before Christmas. How am I going with what I thought I’d do with my forties?

Milestone birthdays are a bit of a focus in our family just now.

Work-life balance and aspirations

I think it it fair to say that my twenties and thirties weren’t particularly balanced. Not as such.

I spent a lot of time working. It wasn’t about money but I prioritised my career over pretty much everything else. I had fun but I was locked into work and the idea of a career. I still tend to prioritise my day-job tasks over the other parts of my life. Back then, though, I made my choices on the basis of a career path.

In my twenties and thirties, I fed my passion by writing when I could. It was almost by stealth. I looked for windows when I could fit activities (and people) in. I studied externally – choosing courses that fed into my passion for the written word. My favourite example of this is that I wrote a Masters dissertation on Henry James, E. M. Forster and Michael Ondaatje mostly so I could spend hours reading Forster. I picked up a graduate certificate in professional writing because units in creative writing hadn’t been available during my undergraduate degree.

In my spare time, such as it was, I participated in writing groups and – when I could – collaborated on theatre projects and community arts activities. I miss rehearsal rooms and workshops. I miss performance nights. I even miss that come down when the season finishes and it’s not quite time to turn to the next project.

It made for a frenetic pace.

I juggled time and, when I wasn’t juggling it, I guarded it. Ferociously.

One day, as I neared forty, my friends and I were kicking around ideas for what we’d do if our lives were responsibility-free and we could do anything. It was a bit of ‘lotto dreaming.’  Travel, houses cars were high on priorities. My dream? … I said I’d want to go back to uni and pick up my studies in medieval literature from my Honours year.

Of course, you don’t need to win the lottery to go back to study* and I didn’t want to wait until I retired before studying in the area that fascinated me. Besides, part-time study and full-time work had become the norm for me. The obvious thing was to enrol in a Masters of Medieval and Early Modern Studies and just get started.

As far as that goes, I think I’ve spent the first half of my forties being fairly productive. Work-wise I’ve been busy as well.

The irony that my Forster dissertation is on travel narrative has been pointed out to me on more than one occasion.

If you’ve been read other posts on this blog, you’ll probably now I’ve worked out the next step as far as my academic plan goes.

I also need to work out my career options.

A lot of my self-definition is tied into my career and the way I work. Perhaps I do need to vary my approach, though. Feeding passions by stealth is (probably) not my best choice. It will do at a pinch. It has served me well in the past. In the meantime, I’m working towards greater integration in my fifties.

I figure I’m giving myself a good run-up.

Ebb and flow

While I haven’t quite worked out my where to next destination, I have come up with a visual concept for the next steps I want to make.

It comes down to constancy and change; like the solid presence of this shoreline rock and the always changing water.

I love the paradox of constancy in change, change in constancy. The rock  is steady but it changes imperceptibly with every lick and lap of the waves. The waves are coloured and flavoured by the rock.

Gentle waves lapping at shoreline rocks
Movement and stillness

I may not have solved my question where to next but I do think I may have found a poem.

*Well, perhaps it would make life easier … and there are the proposed changes to tertiary education funding and fees to consider …

Postscript: I’m not sure of the etiquette here. I made a couple of tweaks to this post after waking up far too early with a case of poster’s regret. I couldn’t resist. I’m not sure it’s the best way to do things, but … I just couldn’t leave it alone.  

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