Finding Peace, or Maybe a Piece of It For A While

I’m really tired of thinking about marketing my three novels that are being re-published this month. I have already marketed them under their original titles and they all have good reviews and now it’s déjà vu all over again. Tomorrow I’ll get out my To Do list and find out if anyone is interested in previewing them (again). Probably not, I’m guessing.

But today, on this sunny afternoon, I’m going to think not about selling books but about the importance of finding the calm places in one’s life. Even when one is as old as I am, life gets complicated and demands on time and energy present themselves every day. I have wondered what would happen if I said no, not only to others, but even to my own demands of myself, not every time, but consciously, once in a while.

I decided to try it.

A group of women I know are getting together, everyone bringing something, for an evening of food and talk. I, after weighing my mixed reaction to the invitation, said I could not join them, I was busy. Truth was, I didn’t want to have to scurry around finding a decent pair of shoes to wear, my sandals now not appropriate.

A civic- minded person I admire wondered why I didn’t volunteer at the local homeless center. Perhaps I would get some ideas for a book, and more important, feel as if I were doing something good for the community. I thought about my need to do something good for me, like take an exercise class for deteriorating bodies like mine. I chose to write a check, and then sign up for my next yoga session.

A friend from college asked if I’d like to go to lunch and catch up. All I could think of is why should we catch up now when we haven’t spoken to each other for three/four years? I begged off and spent time someone I know intimately, our phone calls salve to our sometime wounded days.

A neighbor wondered if I’d have book club at my house, serving dessert. I recalled my last club dessert, a cacophony of pudding and chocolate and graham crackers that exploded as I cut into it. I chose to avoid any such embarrassment again unless I could serve a Trader Joe’s cheese, but I didn’t offer that alternative. I just said no.

I got to a spot in my next book that I couldn’t move forward. I’d really messed up the storyline. I’d have to begin again if I wanted to pull my character out of trouble and into a path leading to a happy conclusion. Then I asked myself why I wanted to do that, that the character got herself into a mess, maybe there was no way out for her. So I put her in a drawer to find her own solution.

I read somewhere that as one gets older, she will slough off friends and obligations in natural moves towards simplicity. This may be why my buddy Pat, enjoying her solitude, knits sox, hundreds of them to hand out to friends when she feels like it but she doesn’t do Christmas. It may be why my mother crocheted an dozen afghans watching TV sitcoms and why I have five of them in my linen drawer, waiting for me to wrap myself in when I start re-reading all of the books on my shelves, a quiet hour goal.

I know my anticipating the peace of old age is why I have a bag of yarn behind my chair and a not-too-difficult sweater pattern to follow during the long hours of the coming winter.

But the sweater will have to wait for now, I’m pretty sure, until I’ve finished my marketing To Do list for three books who, like literary orphans, need homes. It’s very difficult to say no to them.