Monthly Budgeteer columnist Eddy Gilmore is a freelance writer, father of twins and husband of one. Connect with Eddy at eddygilmore.com.
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- 3 years 9 months
One final breath. Then, with a subtle exhalation of release, nothing. She was gone. Her body remained, but Grandma was no longer there. Born a century ago in 1915, this dreaded moment loomed for years. It seemed she had been around forever and would go on indefinitely. Indeed, another lifetime like hers takes you back to Thomas Jefferson. You could depend on her like bedrock. The morning of the funeral found me alone in her kitchen, washing dishes. An old tape I had recorded 14 years ago was playing.
A sense of timelessness emerges if we allow the rhythm of daylight and darkness to structure our days. The darkness at this time of year can especially encourage this state of near-bliss that finds us calm and unhurried.
My family is in a time of great upheaval. A crisis, perhaps. The loss of my job has created uncertainty to a degree that was previously unknown to our children. My wife and I hunger for simple family experiences that remove our eyes from our own problems. As the Christmas tree points up, so we wish to keep our eyes and souls from being downcast. We obtained our Christmas tree this year from the forest, a vast boreal civilization. The kids went in one direction to hunt for options, but instead delighted themselves in sledding down a hill.
Righteous indignation. It is difficult to avoid this reaction after Republican Congressional leaders appointed Senator James Inhofe to head the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. He will become the nation's most powerful Republican on environmental issues in January, when Senate control swings to the right. I am uniquely qualified to be upset about this. For many years I leaned conservative on a variety of issues. The only Democrats I've ever voted for are Rep. James Oberstar and Mayor Don Ness.
With lengthening evenings and more activity moving indoors, it is a good time to ponder home life. Your home should be delighted in. It should not be shrouded in shame or secrecy or be something you are eager to abandon. When the home is functioning properly, family and life flow out abundantly to the exterior world. The joy within overflows naturally, spilling out into all aspects of existence.
There's no place I'd rather die than in Duluth. Likewise, there's no place I'd rather reinvent the notion of vocation. This is the land upon which I choose to live, and to live abundantly. For 12 long, toilsome years I buried myself in the corporate feedbag. What began as a temporary arrangement, to qualify for a mortgage, almost imperceptibly transformed into a major epoch of my life. Now, two months after the relationship was unexpectedly severed, my sight is being restored. The fog is lifting.
Unemployed. Cut loose. Sacked. At liberty. In between work. Job seeker. Jobless. Wage-free. Laid off. Let go. Transitioning. Writer. Each of these describe my current situation, but "terrifying" says it best. Henry David Thoreau, in his grand experiment at Walden Pond, sought to "drive life into a corner" and reduce it to its simplest terms. He feared the prospect of getting to the end of his life and discovering that he had not really lived.
Two powerful assets for parents are lists and friends. As hydrogen and oxygen combine to make water, so these two tools may be amalgamated in the lifetime battle against what author Richard Louv describes as “nature deficit disorder.” According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children spend an average of seven hours per day viewing electronic media.
Duluth, right now, is in a remarkable period of cultural expansion and flowering. For many years latent energy accumulated, as in a flower bulb below the ground, and now we are seeing a bursting forth of springtime-like growth. This has been ongoing for some years, but seems to be gathering a head of steam. Duluth’s number-one finish in Outside magazine’s contest for America’s best outdoor city is some evidence of this. Duluthians are jazzed and excited to live here.
These past two weeks have produced a flood of green on the landscape. On one run through Hartley and Bagley nature areas, I marveled at every weed, fiddleheads in various stages of development, brand new leaves on trees, marsh marigolds, tiny wildflowers and even insects, as if I were a Martian only now discovering life on this strange blue planet called Earth. At the conclusion and climax of my hour spent cleaving through this atmosphere of paradise, I stood upon the knob at Hartley overlooking all this new life.