Sunday, September 25, 2011
I just finished reading Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach. It is the story of a nearly year long "sabbatical" she took from her career as a journalist to live and travel in Europe and try to find herself along the way. I saw a lot of myself in the book as I read about her. She was 50 something at the time, her kids had left home and she was coming to terms with being in the latter half of her life.
This has been on my mind a lot of late too. Many existential questions of where do I go from here? On the one hand I think I love my work--note that even there I am losing my certainty. On the other hand part of me wants to "run away from home" and find a new life.
The back to school season leaves me thinking about transitions and empty nests--my oldest has moved into his own apartment near campus and my youngest started high school. In four years it will just be me and my husband, cats, turtle and fish rattling around in a too big house. Even before Alice suggested the idea by her own life choices, I had been thinking about what the next steps will be.
There are all these lists nowadays--50/100/1000 things to see/do/read before you die. I don't need a book to come up with my own list. It is there in my mind, more so when I get itchy feet and need to do something new or challenging.
Ms. Steinbach spends her year of wandering in France, Britain and Italy. She writes concisely as in a series of essays about her experiences of each place she stops, as well as her experience of herself in those places. Not everyone can do what she did--it requires a financial freedom and a freedom from pressing responsibilities that not everyone has. It also requires a degree of courage and spirit of adventure to make the leap.
I'm not likely to make any great leaps until my son graduates high school and heads off to college but I'm dreaming now. I hope I make the right choices for me when the time comes.
But back to the book. I very much enjoyed it. It is a relatively light read--easily accomplished in a couple of days but journeying with the author was a pleasure. It also may inspire me to pick up the works of some of her favorite authors: E.B. White, Freya Stark and Janet Flanner.
What's on your life list?