It's cold and sunny today, the kind of cold that almost explodes your head when draw in that first outdoor breath of the morning. Over the weekend, we might not make it above 0 (that's Fahrenheit, folks), which means that this weekend is unlikely to be the weekend when I finally get out and enjoy some kind of winter fun like ice fishing or skiing. That's kind of disappointing.
For the last few weeks, I've had the annoying feeling that my life had become dramatically less interesting than it had been just a couple years ago. Last Friday, I drove to see an old friend who lives an hour and a half away, partly because I wanted to borrow his sausage grinder attachment, and partly because I just felt like doing something alone. It was good to see him, as always. He's one of just a few people that I think of as close friends. But it felt sorta strange to be doing something without my wife. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized how unusual it has become for me to be out and about, hanging out with a friend, and not accompanied by my wife.
These days, it feels like my life has shrunk down to basically 1) getting ready for work, 2) being at work, 3) watching TV after work, and 4) sleeping. The occasions on which I am alone are generally the times when I am engaged in activity #3 and my wife is doing stuff with a friend. It didn't used to be that way. It used to be that I spent a considerable amount of time alone but doing stuff, and I felt like the stuff I did other than working was the stuff that more or less defined who I was as a person. A former teacher of mine used to say, "The more you do, the more you are," and it seemed right.
But now, I do less. I just don't have the juice after work to do much of anything except occupy my big ugly green recliner. Last night, my wife went with a friend to go see "The Queen" with the very fabulous Dame Helen Mirren. I stayed home, fired up the bong, watched old episodes of "Connections" with shaggy old James Burke, and ate a pint of ice cream. And the kicker is that even going to work doens't really feel like doing much of anything. My job is not particularly demanding, my work is generally not subject to real deadlines, so I sort of plod along for 8 hours, get back in the car, and go home. None of the anxiety, the excitement, the ego-inflating opportunities to demonstrate one's brilliance that I had in private practice.
Again today, I will wander my way through 8 hours at the office, stopping frequently to check out the latest news/stock prices/Amazon.com Friday Sale items or to play a game of Solitaire, maybe answering the phone a few times, then I will get back into the car, drive home, open a beer, and watch the news. My wife will be out for cocktails with former coworkers. I will probably bake a loaf of bread and eat several slices of it while watching through googly eyes as James Burke explains how the discovery of earwax in ancient China led to the development of the modern cellular phone.