“I don’t even know what I’d put down for hobbies anymore.” I didn’t mean it to sound as plaintive as it did.
“Well, of course,” she said, making a sweeping gesture that I understood to take in my kids, even though they weren’t with us. “Because you have five of them now.”
I went away thinking about hobbies, about the things I used to enjoy that, once time became limited, hadn’t make the cut. What would I put on the boards? It became a statement of values, a mental shorthand for something philosophically larger: What makes the board.
Under the auspices of writing an essay, I decided to use Pinterest an exercise in soul-searching. I created three boards: HAVE BEEN, AM, BECOMING. And I posted (or “pinned”) images that reflected each phase of my life.
In HAVE BEEN, there was skydiving, writing, running, fostering orphaned baby animals, golfing, skiing, horseback riding, traveling. Gourmet meals. Gorgeous handmade cableknit sweaters. Glamorous stiletto sandals.
In AM there was yoga, writing, kitten fostering, patent-leather Dansko clogs, and the Von Trapps — well, minus the singing, the wealth and the nanny.
In BECOMING, there were to be — yes — golf and yoga, writing and travel. I also want to take inn-to-inn trips abroad, by bike or horseback. Also the dream of someday working for Smile Train, an international organization aiding children with cleft palates. And baby alpaca: I want to have a small alpaca farm. But the centerpiece is an arresting portrait of a gorgeous old woman: she wears in an evening gown with her eyes closed and elegant arms outstretched like she is embracing the all of herself.
I made my boards, like planting a flag on the moon, and I’ve never gone back. But I learned something in the exercise, something comforting. I may well have winnowed my life down to just a few things right now. But there are still the shadows of all that has been the essence of me. There are new interests that have grown out of the experience and empathy of years raising children. And if I’m fortunate enough to live to be 80, I hope to sit at peace with my arms open wide, grateful that the best of my energy and intentions lasted to make it to the Becoming, and bring them all into my bony embrace.