I recently wrote a wailing, self-pitying post on a private bulletin board I'm on. A safe place, where I can express such fears. And I wrote:
I'm afraid I'm going to die before I finish the books I want to write.
I'm afraid my husband and I will never again .....
I'm afraid I'm about to sink into a depression.
I'm afraid of the IRS
I'm afraid I'm going to be a slave to someone I'm not going to name in case that person reads my blog, and that there's no way to escape until that person dies.
I'm afraid I'll never get away from this place where the winters and the taxes are killing us.
I'm afraid, and I'm usually fearless. I guess I'm afraid the fear won't pass.
There's a reason for all this fear. My remaining sibling, my 64 year old sister, died this spring without warning. One day she was talking about plans for the future and how she was going to be more active, and then she just didn't wake up. And I still haven't really grieved about it -- I've been running around, being busy, pushing it again.
And then, just to sweeten the pot, my 59 year old, very healthy husband had a heart attack, and not a minor one. His cholesterol isn't bad, his blood pressure's fine, he eats well, exercises and has no family history of heart problems. And yet his arteries are filled with plaque, and one was clogged completely.
He's recovering nicely, and he'll be doing cardiac rehab and be back to normal, skiing, hiking, etc.
But it's no wonder I'm afraid.
I was thinking about when life isn't what you expected it to be. We all have dreams of perfect children and nuclear families and all the usual passages. We were thrown a curve when I couldn't get pregnant (our children are adopted) and life keeps tossing challenges at us.
Around now I could really do with a break. I want to move somewhere we can afford to live (Vermont
is beautiful but it's not only the most taxed state in the country, it also has horrendously high utility rates). Someplace with less snow and more sunshine. A new house with room for a sewing studio, a view of the mountains, and just someplace else.
But ... life is full of trade-offs.
I am the person I wanted to be when I grew up (albeit fatter). I live the life I would have chosen.
But because I'm a writer I have to pay my own taxes, and when life becomes chaotic those fall by the wayside. It means no one pays me a pension. It means money comes in chunks and then nothing, making saving for the future very hard.
But that's the downside of the gift I was given. I was given the gift to write books I love, to be able to sell the books I love and make a living at it. If I hadn't chosen to follow that path, if I'd taken a traditional job and my husband had had a traditional job then we'd be looking at retirement in the next few years and planning for the future.
But think of all I would have missed! The stories that I would never have told, the trips I'd never have taken, the friends I would have missed. I chose this life, chose to follow my bliss, and with it comes some hard choices.
It was thinking about The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. It's probably illegal to copy it here, but you know the one -- two roads diverged in a yellow wood ...I took the one less traveled by, and that made all the difference.
And I did. I'm still on that road. It's got more brambles and you can't always tell what direction it's going. You might end up going over a cliff. But you might reach glorious peaks and amazing views. And it's the road I took, and I don't regret it.
I guess what I have to do is acknowledge the fear. None of it is unreasonable (hell, fear of the IRS is healthy). But know that some of these fears are the dark side of the choices I've made, and they really are a price I'm willing to pay.
I just want to make sure I live long enough to write all the stories I want to write. I think I need to live forever.