Monday, September 7, 2009

Space, Time, and People

Pictures have been hung on the walls, curtains on the windows, and books are settled onto their shelves. We've got the new phone numbers, library cards, drivers licenses, car registrations, and health insurance policies. Even our magazine subscriptions are dutifully arriving at the right place. It feels like the move itself is finally finished.

And all of a sudden, time has opened up for me. This week, for example, I had whole stretches of time with no to-do list, and after so many months of relentless, detailed tasks and puzzles to solve, I found the openness more than a little disconcerting.

I went to the library and picked up a book called, The Not So Big Life, by Sarah Susanka. Years ago, her book called the Not So Big House radically changed my thoughts about what kind of house to buy here in Arkansas. Instead of the lavish southern mansion I had imagined, with sun rooms and screened porches and music rooms and walk-in closets, I wanted a tidy house. Something with energy efficient windows, good attic insulation, and low-flow toilets. Something I could clean myself, with room for the clothes I actually love to wear instead of the ones I'll never wear again in a million years, no matter how much I enjoyed wearing them fifteen years ago.

So here we are in this lovely little house. And now, there is the question of what to do with my time.

Happily, there is a little work: I got a new business planning project last week. A very exciting project. But even with that job ahead of me, I inhabit a strange gap between all the ways I spent time in California and all the ways I could spend it here. I sit on no committees, belong to no organizations, and have no obligations. It makes me think about how I would like to spend time, given this fresh start.

Obviously, spending time with family figures high on my list of priorities. Here is this week's gratuitous picture of Honey. There will always be a slice of time carved out for Katie and her family, Leo when he's here on his school breaks, and we also scheduled a trip to visit my dad.

Exploring Arkansas will also take some time. We took a spin through some of the downtown museums on Sunday afternoon, and I look forward to driving the back roads this Fall when the leaves are turning.

Walking has become my favorite way to take a break by myself. And as I walk around my neighborhood, I ponder: what's missing now? What's the next thing to do, now that we've moved?

I realized that I'm earnestly looking for two missing pieces: meeting people my own age, and finding new ways to contribute my energies towards fixing the world.

Last weekend, at the Buddhist center, we met a guy who just started a local magazine (!) called New Sixty. In exchange for some free publishing tips from me, he promises to introduce us around town. And today, at his invitation, we went to a "Slow Food" potluck lunch at the farmers market. The lunch was hosted by people working to get healthy, local food into the public school lunchrooms. We ate well, met some fine folks, and signed all their various petitions. Here are some pictures. Could Slow Food become a cause that engages us here? Could these be our new people? Maybe. We'll see.

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