It’s a strange place to begin a New Year, but it’s where I am. No, I haven’t been fired from my job or displaced from my home by floods like some friends in Missouri. I do, however, have a sense of having been drop kicked into a new land. It’s a good land, but an unfamiliar land, and I’m wondering what will grow there.
The unfamiliar land is a product of my age and stage in life. My kids are increasingly self-sufficient. The bills are getting paid. My work for which I’m paid is fulfilling and stable. I have something in my life that I haven’t had for a very long time: space.
I have space. Of time. Of energy.
I have some time to pray and read and worship God in the mornings without interruption. With sufficient discipline to get to bed at a reasonable hour, I have time to sleep for 6-7 hours. I have time to think and write. That’s new.
Because of this sufficient sleep and a better (not perfect, but better) discipline of exercise and eating, I have some energy. I’m thinking clearer; I’m remembering more; I’m imagining ways of life that I left behind in the throes of child rearing and homemaking.
What will I do with my time? What will I do with my energy? These decisions aren’t being made for me by dance rehearsals, bath times, and PTO agendas.
Hence, it’s a new land and a little bit frightening. It’s not a punishment, like Eve and Adam’s, but it comes with a certain burden of decision-making and thus the opportunity to choose wrongly. What if I waste my time? What if my energy isn’t enough? What if all the excuses I’ve been using all along weren’t really valid at all, and now I have to own up for the dreams I’ve left deferred? What if it’s just too late?
So, yes, I’m in a new land now. If I plant it (whatever “it” is…a dream, a diet, a project, a hope?), will it grow?
It occurs to me that Adam and Eve didn’t choose to be the farmers, let alone the very first farmers, but they did well. They tilled the land, taught their children to do the same, and farmers ever since have fed us bountifully.
[By the way, I happen to be a terrible gardener. I’m waiting to receive some seed packets in the mail this week, and I can only hope that my next attempt at a window herb garden will go better than the last attempt that involved an infestation of sugar ants. I am confident that this “new land” I’m imagining will not involve a vegetable garden.]
If Eve and Adam could make a go of farming, despite neither training nor experience, then maybe I’m sufficiently equipped to thrive in this new land, too.
I’ll keep you posted.
In Ann Patchett’s marvelous commencement speech, “What now?” at Sarah Lawrence College in 2006, she concludes:
If you’re trying to find out what’s coming next, turn off everything you own that has an OFF switch and listen.
Apple menu. Shut down. Yes. Goodbye.
 Ann Patchett, What Now? Harper, 2008: 78.