My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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resting

“Your new old things look great in your new old house,” wrote my friend and student Jason after yesterday’s class. I’ve managed to fit a bit of Mum’s stuff into the living room, dining room and kitchen – chairs, pictures, miscellaneous tables and dishes. It looks civilized. But the basement is the Dorian Grey of my house, where everything else is stacked up and strewn. Where will it all go? Maybe I’ll just leave it down there in piles. Stay tuned.

Another friend and student, Chris, wrote to correct the poetry quote a few posts back – “Home is the place where/when you have to go there/they have to take you in.” It’s by Robert Frost. Patsy from Gabriola also corrected me, and sent a link to the poem, “Death of a hired man,” which is beautiful and moving. Don’t miss it.

 http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173525

On Wednesday night, I watched the first episode of “Homeland”, the hit U.S. show about the CIA and terrorism. Amazingly skilful writing – instantly, we’re drawn into personality and suspense, fascinating characters, frightening events, horror, mystery, tense family dynamics – in the background of a huge security issue, the familiar battle between a sullen teenaged girl and her tightly-coiled mother. The show made my heart race. I thought it was terrific, and I’ll never watch it again.

Why torment myself with fictional mysteries and strange characters and deep-seated terrors, when real ones are all around me? It’s not like watching “Downton,” which is like sipping fine champagne, a pleasure in itself. “Homeland” is a challenge, and good as it is, I don’t need another challenge. So I went on-line and tried to read up on what happens next. Pretty convoluted. Enjoy.

I didn’t tell you about something important that happened last week, and now will try to do so without getting too personal or weird. Maybe I mentioned that my brother and I have had our problems getting along, through the years. We’re in some ways opposites, and we carry the difficult legacy of a difficult childhood, a challenge to harmony that seemed insurmountable. Despite managing without conflict to produce a perfect memorial event and embark on the huge job of clearing out Mum’s condo, there was still some disagreement, issues niggling and nagging, making me furious. I was dreading my visit there last weekend.

I brought this up with my meditation group, and we discussed how we expect so much more of family members than of others in our lives – unrealistically, destructively so. “That’s the reason so many marriages fail,” said Wayson sagely. The most important thing we learn in the group, over and over, is to let go. Let it go. “Leave your worries and burdens,” says Wayson, “by the river.” And for some reason, this time in Ottawa, something extraordinary happened – I let it go. My lifelong resentment of my brother disappeared. I put down a load of pain I’d been carrying all my life and left it by the river.

This doesn’t mean we’ll be best friends. It does mean I can see him as an ordinarily flawed human being, just like everyone else. He does his best with the tools he has, as do we all. On Sunday, we got through choices and decisions with mutual respect and humour. Something cold inside me melted. It feels miraculous.

So, mortgage paid and an old wound made better. A plateau of calm. But as my wise friend says, “When all is well, look behind you.” Good times don’t last, just as bad times don’t. Change will come. So I take nothing for granted, appreciate every moment, like this one: Friday night, silence, sleeping cat, furnace humming, belly full of soup and, of course, wine. The breath comes in, the breath goes out, and my heart is, for now, at rest. I ask for nothing more.

Well, world peace, a cure for disease, and a rich, fulfilling life for my family. But otherwise, nothing.

Well …

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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A new book by Beth Kaplan, published by Mosaic Press – “Midlife Solo”

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