For Christmas I received a green message bracelet from Austin, Texas, that read "What Would Molly Do?" The Molly in this case is the wonderful, irreverent, and sadly missed Molly Ivins. She was not mean, but she called it like she saw it, never letting the need to be "nice" get in the way of a good punchline and the need to deflate the balloon of hot air that surrounds so many public figures and politicians. She was smart as can be, 6 feet tall, and unafraid of speaking truth to power. And funny, funny, funny. She died at 62.
You get to a time in your life when numbers like that jump out at you. I will be 62 next month. Have I done what I came here to do? Could I say goodbye with a feeling of "job well done" the way I hope Molly did? Retiring has put me in mind of that since to me my career as a college professor was not "what I came here to do" and now I have the chance to try to figure that out.
Molly knew what I should do. For years I kept a quote from Molly on my desk at work:
In 1993 she gave this advice: "So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
Am I ready for a good fight? There are plenty of causes to take on, a world of things that need fixing. Am I ready to do any of this? I have to say that right now I can think about it, but I am not ready. I need some R and R, some time to recuperate from a challenging, stressful job. I am sleeping better than I have in years, just a week into this experiment. I don't want to lose that, or the feeling that of letting go of the weight of responsibility that has been on my shoulders. My friend Patty, a few years ahead of me in this process, advised that I let go of commitments for a year. Let what I truly love surface.
Maybe it comes from being a middle child in a pretty nutty family, but I am a peacemaker by inclination. I always feel the need to fix things. A perfect co-dependent I found out after attending meetings for Adult Children of Alcoholics. You can imagine, as a hearing person at a deaf university, where my students and colleagues had plenty of wounds from being deaf people in a hearing world, I got busy doing what came naturally. This is rather exhausting, I found out, and I got better at saying no. But still...
So here I am, the world outside my door, with much to be done out there, and me feeling the tug. What would Molly do? As I reread her quote above, I realize that it is easy for me to ignore the "fun" part of the message. In my new phase, maybe I can start to take fun seriously. If I have fun, then maybe it will lead to "what I came here to do". Or maybe it is what I came here to do. Hard words for an over-responsible person to hear. But I am wearing Molly's bracelet, and doing my best to have fun.
Anybody want to play cards? Play Clue? Play some folk music?