by Shirley Drew
My husband Jim recently retired as Professor of Biology from our local university. So naturally, I wanted to get him started on several projects around the house and property that we've delayed for some time. But retirement doesn’t mean the same thing to him as it does to other people. His idea of retirement is to continue to work on research projects through the university, and to continue to work on several state level environmental committees. Among other things. My point is, his life is continuing pretty much as it had before retirement. Busy, active, and meaningful. And he doesn’t get frustrated that he rarely has time to get everything done as soon as he would like. He just enjoys his life and his many commitments. That’s where he and I differ.
More and more often I find that life gets in my way when I want to sit down to write. These last few weeks since the spring semester ended (I am a full time professor at the university as well), have been like a squall of activity. With dinners out and shopping with friends, to family visits and planning our vacation, I haven’t spent much time writing. I’m teaching my first online class this summer and the learning curve has been steep, though I am enjoying the experience. And even though he’s “retired,” I convinced Jim to help me design and piece together a new stone path from our driveway to our walkout basement steps. Then I had him till the ground for a butterfly garden, which may or may not be completed anytime soon. So when do I write? Lately, not often. And sometimes I get frustrated by life’s distractions.
Then I stop to think about how fortunate I am. I have friends and family to spend time with who enrich my life every single day. I have a job I love that gives me time off every summer, and a husband who is active and committed to projects about which he cares deeply. And that same husband sometimes finds it fun to work on home projects that I keep cooking up for him. So am I still frustrated about my general busyness? Sure. But I am also grateful. Because when I do sit down to write, I have a range of experiences to draw from for ideas. And for someone who writes creative non-fiction, that's essential material to have.
When I feel frustrated, I remember what Stephen King said in his book, On Writing:
“Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around.”