It occurred to me not long ago that now that I'm no longer doing magazine stuff, I could do any number of other things.
My main priorities for the time being are things like watching movies, playing games, and reading books. But I'm starting to think about other stuff I could do, such as:
- Learn more about a language. I've picked up bits and pieces of Spanish by osmosis, just from living in California; I could spend some time learning a little grammar and expanding my vocabulary. And/or I could finally get around to learning how to pronounce written Arabic or other scripts (Hebrew, Ge'ez, Devanagari, Hangul, etc); it's handy to be able to more or less sound out words in hiragana and katakana and Cyrillic and Greek, and I've always wanted to be able to do that with other writing systems, even if I'm not willing to devote the time and energy to learn much of the actual languages.
- Learn more about sailing. I took an intro class a couple years ago, but never got around to going out on the lake on my own; at this point I should probably take the intro class again. But I do like being out on the water. Vaguely relatedly, it might be fun to learn the basics of surfing. And I've always wanted to try hang-gliding. And I used to enjoy super-basic skiing; I could try that again.
- More fiction writing. At my current rate out of output, it'll take me years to finish any of my current projects. If I want to do better than that, I'll need to start setting aside more time for it.
- Learn an instrument. In particular, I love the Ocarina 2 iPhone app; I'm at a sort of advanced-beginner level, and I enjoy playing it, and I love the way it sounds.
- Volunteer. I was just reading about a charitable organization that's about two blocks from my house; I could go help out there. And/or I could help out on various organizations' websites that I've previously offered to help with but have never ended up with time for.
- Other fun stuff. Last time I went whale-watching in Monterey, we saw no whales, so I got free return tickets, which I haven't used. I love hanging out on the beach, but never actually get around to it. There are lots of nice state parks and other nature preserves and such within easy distance of my house, but I never visit them. And so on.
(I'm leaving out some vast categories of New Things I could do, like cooking and travel, because they don't especially interest me at the moment. The above are all things that I'm actively interested in learning or doing.)
My first thought when I started thinking about doing new-to-me stuff was “Oh, look, it's a midlife crisis!” But although I'm sure some of that is going on, I think I'd make a distinction between being stressed and unhappy about not having achieved one's dreams, and discovering a sense of freedom after stepping away from a big and very time-consuming responsibility. I feel like I have the opportunity here (and the privilege of time and money and other resources) to do things that I've never gotten around to doing.
Of course, knowing me, I may well end up leaving all those things on hold, and continuing to spend all my time watching movies and TV, playing computer games, reading books, and chatting with friends. And that wouldn't be bad; I enjoy all of those things, and despite being part of various social groups that valorize Creating (which is also great!), I'm at least as much into Consuming created work as creating it. And there are lots of other kinds of things that need my time and attention, like dealing with various home-remodeling kinds of projects, and exercising more. And relationships and friendships, of course.
Also, the above list of options is a little daunting. I obviously can't do all of those things, so I'll have to pick which ones to pursue, if any, and making choices is hard!
Then, too, there are several editing projects I want to eventually embark on—I have a list of themed anthologies I'd like to edit, for example, and I have an idea for a group blog, and I have dozens of Big Serious Entries I've been meaning for years to write for this blog—which wouldn't be new directions like the above list, but would still be fun and interesting.
But I like the sense of possibility of trying some new things. I may decide to bask in the options for a while longer before pursuing any of them.