Lately many people have asked, "What are you going to do when you get to Madison?" This is often followed by, "Are you going to volunteer at the library? Are you going to finish writing your book? Which one will you finish first?"
And so on.
I realize this is largely polite conversation, social connective talk where content is as meaningless as "How are you?"
It reminds me, though, of when I retired. Lots of people wanted to know what on earth I was going to do. I pointed out that if I wanted to do something, I would have continued to work and get paid.
To be honest, I don't plan to do anything. Madison is full of things to do, museums to visit, events to enjoy, people to meet. And I am sure we will do some of those things, visit those museums, attend some of those events, meet some of those people. (Hi, Glen! Indian food?)
I will probably even finish writing a book or two and maybe -- someday -- volunteer at a local library or some such thing.
But after spending three decades in a contemplative religious community, I find that my priorities seldom start with doing things. Chop wood, carry water. Before and after. Feed cats, take walks. Before and after. In the monastery, we began each day with an hour of silent reflective solitude, and before the evening meal, we had another hour of silent reflective solitude. The most useful part of the day.
Sometimes it is not even all that important to chop wood and carry water.
Although, of course, feeding the cats is never optional.