Life In General: Off Kilter

I woke up feeling off kilter, out of my element, draggy, decrepit, and a little dispirited. “This is still the age of dinosaurs, only these days I’m the dinosaur,” writes Karen Maezen Miller, in her book Paradise in Plain Sight. That is how I feel today: slowing lumbering along and stiff-leggedly plodding through a world that whizzes by 100 miles an hour.

I have no good reason for this disequilibrium, no plausible excuse for feeling my dinosaur bones. In fact, life in general has been quite lovely of late. Last weekend we were on Mackinac Island, which is one of Michigan’s true historic show places, to attend a wedding. The weather was picture perfect for the happy occasion, and, since weddings always make me feel nostalgically romantic, I’ve been walking around in a blissful little afterglow ever since. We’ve had some wonderful social evenings out with friends this week, and the weather has been cooperatively summery as well. 

Yesterday we met with our financial planner to discuss retirement goals and plans, and left feeling encouraged that we might just be able to make most of those dreams come true after all. (Well, maybe not the his and hers C7 Corvettes.) We had a great lunch on the patio at 220, of our favorite restaurants in Birmingham, and I enjoyed the rest of the day at home, puttering around with the flowers and reading on the deck.

In retrospect, it might have been the meeting yesterday that sowed those first seeds of unease in my spirit. We were talking about Jim’s retirement years, and we’re now well within the five year countdown until that landmark occurrence. It seems that from the first moment people start their working lives, the big “R” word sits squarely on their horizon, a final beacon on which to set your sights. In those early days of career building, it seems like light years away. And it is - then.

Now, though, we’re roaring up on it full speed ahead. 

We’ve been making plans for traveling (UK, France, Germany); for where we want to live eventually (somewhere warm with no snow in the winter); thinking about the things we know will require the most in terms of our investment capital.

Though it’s fun to dream, and fun to project ways those dreams can become reality, as I lay in bed this morning reviewing it all in my mind, I started seeing some of those dreams drifting away. It’s all “pie in the sky,” as my Grandmother used to say. We all know how tenuous life in general can be. One or the other of us becomes ill, the economy tanks again and all that “on paper” money disappears down a rabbit hole. 

And of course, the ability to enact most of these big changes means that my mother and probably both of our dogs are no longer here on earth with us. That melancholy fact is not lost on either of us, and the reality that both things are likely to occur within the next five years is a sobering, bubble bursting thought. Because we all know how fast five years goes.

It goes whizzing by. 

Leave it to me, I scolded myself, always looking on the dark side. Why can’t you just be happy that things seem to be working out well? Why can’t you admire all those dream bubbles floating around you and focus on making them come true? 

I got up, made coffee, and sat out on the deck for a while. Then we took the dogs into town for a walk around Mill Race Village, a tiny little historical park that’s blissfully quiet and peaceful. It’s only “officially” open on Sundays, so I love going there on weekday mornings. where I usually have it all to myself. I never take my phone with me on those walks, and can wander through the quiet dirt streets, listen to the Rouge River babbling as it flows over the dam. I feel so at home in this street of 19th century homes and buildings, I almost wonder if part of my spirit isn’t stuck that era, if perhaps I lived then as someone else and didn’t quite make it all the into the 20th century at birth.

Now here I am, firmly ensconced in the 21st, living out the second half of my personal century in this time of frenetic global change. I suppose every century seems that way to the people who live through it, and that time streaks past them as quickly as it does for us.

No wonder we feel disoriented at times, as if the earth indeed moves under our feet. 

I’ll be taking the rest of the day to get my dinosaur bones back together and on solid footing once again.