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Paul Gauguin:
Manao tupapau [She Thinks of the Ghost or The Ghost Thinks of Her]

"The playing field suddenly seems wide open."

I peeked into The Muse's office yesterday and found her desk barren, her large display monitor and high speed printer gone, returned to The National Lab as a sure sign of her retirement. We returned to a different place than we left. Further, we returned different people than the ones who left, too. The cats were the first to notice. We came as ghosts and, once familiar patterns disrupted, neither cat seemed to know what to do with our presence. It took a day for them to switch back, or really attempt to. The house, too, seemed changed. Absent the presence of The Muse's career responsibilities, the place seemed more open, freer. It would take some Resettling to settle back in here, though I wonder if there might not be any real back to begin settling into. This rehabitation might well be an invention.

People our age refer to their forever home.
Once retired, one might choose to finally move where they'd always desired to live, into what they recognize as most probably the last home they'll ever acquire, hence the 'forever' designation. I don't understand the urge to start over in an unfamiliar place at that age, for it seems a barren settlement where a settler knows no one and must, at an advanced age, set about acquiring lifelong friends and acquaintances. The patterns of a place might well forever escape anyone who settles in too late, for it might take decades they will never possess to become adequately acquainted with any place. Relocating to a Florida or a beach seems like a definite stretch at an advanced age, but even forever homes acquired at younger ages become the stage for Resettling as life changes visit.

None of us remain unchanged by our passage. What satisfied earlier incarnations won't necessarily do for later emergences, and we're always evolving, new tastes, fresh preferences periodically appearing. None of anybody's story seems definitively settled. The Muse moved her pile of home work up into her vacated office space, Resettling that same desk with a different pretense. She'd mostly done home work from a living room chair to avoid co-mingling her personal and professional paperwork. This left mysterious piles on the window seat and unmentionable clutter. I doubt if she'll fully migrate into her office now, since her social presence still seems to demand that she work in a more public place. She always hated hiding out in her office. Now she can choose again.

And we can always choose again. Nothing seems terribly permanent anywhere. Even retiring amounts to a new beginning, if one benefitting from considerable prior experience beginning all over again. Heraclitus would have said that one does not step into the same forever place more than once, an insight perhaps more profound than even he would have intended. Those times when one steps into forever for the seemingly first time leave a real impression. Who cares if its ninety percent illusion? We're forever starting over, never really finished, our work mostly new beginnings. Who will we become this time, now that The Muse's career has moved on? Who will I become? I have another chance to grow up to finally become a responsible citizen. The playing field suddenly seems wide open. I pray that I am.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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