I’m frequently asked how I’m doing these days, and I often ask the same of others. While not inherently insincere, the question can feel pedestrian and the responses are often mundane. Response options include, “I’m living the dream, I’m well, I’m OK, I’m not so OK, and I’m uncomfortable.” The Rolling Stones scripture of 5 decades ago, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” suggests that frustration and disillusion are inevitable. Hearts and souls are wounded every day. But the song isn’t melancholic. There are gospel-like piano fills, and Jagger whoops and hollers. It is an anthem for not having what you want and need, and getting by anyway.
In Homeland Elegies, author Ayad Akhtar speaks of his mentor. He says, “Difficulty had been the flintstone against which her powers of analysis were sharpened.” I’m not an advocate for hard times, but they’re informative. Innovation and creativity arise during difficult times. I’m reconciled to challenge; I like it. Challenges make me face my limitations. When facing them and writing about them, I’m offered glimpses into my potential. Good times can also be an important ingredient of creative fertilizer.
Solitude is challenging. Sarla, my now deceased companion of 24 years, gave me someone to bump up against. I didn’t always enjoy it. But she offered me a vantage point for self observation. Her personality was bold, giving her the tools to push my buttons. Living without a button pusher is freeing, but can just as readily feel like a free fall. Now I can do whatever I want without unsolicited feedback. Solitude flexes its own feedback muscle. I’m bumping up against aloneness. I’ve scripted this time, yet there are moments of yearning for company. I lean into the feeling until it abates and resolve to stay the course. The onset of the 6th week in my adventure feels as though I’m still dwelling in its first chapter. It’s too soon to claim definitive knowledge about how I’m doing or where the path will lead.
When asked how I’m doing, I default to, ”Let me get back to you after more time has elapsed. I’d rather send you a link to my blog and let it speak for itself.” I don’t discount the question, but I’m incapable of a fill-in-the-blank response. Some of you have surmised that this journey isn’t a cakewalk. Reading is interactive. Any value that you might glean from reading my blog is as much about how you relate to what I write as it is about my reflections on thoughts, feelings, and experiences when I draft my posts.
When asked personal questions in a multiple choice answer format, Alfred E. Neuman, the gap-toothed cover boy for Mad Magazine, checked the box for his own leavening write-in entry, “None of the above.” Am I feeling blessed, having a fabulous time, a hard time, or an average time? None of the above.
I’m doin’ OK. You?