mound builders 2A few weeks ago I sat down and resolved to examine my life a little. This may sound a bit grimmer than I’ve been feeling, but here it is: I’ve realized that my life is almost certainly more than halfway over. It’s time to prioritize a bit. What do I wish to do with what I have left, assuming I have an ordinary healthy span and don’t lose my mind?

Putting aside the obvious goals of always striving to be a better father, husband, and human being, I looked at the way I spend my time and tried to come up with some ways to get to the things I like or have wished to do and haven’t found time for. 

Writing. I always want to get more writing done, even though it’s always a challenge. It’s so much easier to plan for it than to do it. I devised a list of all the writing projects I’d like to get to — beyond the current series which I’m working on nearly every day — and ordered them by my level of interest.

One project that keeps rising to the top is the creation of two series of short stories. I don’t have time to work on them during the day, most of the time, as I’m writing novels, but I thought I might be able to work on them a little in the evening. I have resolved to outline one short story each week, with the goal of eventually having enough for another e-collection of Dabir and Asim short stories. When I will find time to WRITE said stories is another battle, but I have begun to plot them. One week down, one story plotted. So far so good.

mound builders

Mound Builders near game end.

Health. Oddly I find myself in better shape than at any time previously in my life. In part that’s because a few years ago I returned to the practice of martial arts after an almost eight year absence and in part because with middle age I finally put enough weight onto my skinny frame to enable the build-up of muscle. Despite being in better shape, I’ve resolved to improve it. As one ages it grow harder and harder to build new muscle and all that, so I thought I’d cement the ground work for having healthier future decades by increasing my calisthenics and building those muscles while I can. It’s not so hard, really, to take a few short breaks during the day to work in some extra leg lifts and the like and then get back to writing. No, I don’t own a weight bench or any of that. I’m pretty low tech about these things; pushups, sit-ups, leg lifts, crunches, etc.

Gaming. Of late I’ve been accumulating solitaire (or solitaire playable) board games and then… shoving them in the closet. It’s gotten to be something of an addiction — I read reviews, chat with other solitaire gamers, and search for bargains, yet I haven’t been playing them. It’s very silly — why own these things if I’m not going to use them? I purchased or traded for each with full intention of playing, but it just hasn’t happened very often.  In the evenings, you see, it seems a bit much to pull out a game and set it up around 8 or 8:30 when I know very well I’ll be going to bed in an hour or an hour and a half.

I decided to find a time to work in gaming. Sunday morning, when the rest of the family sleeps in, seemed the best answer. And by George, it worked. Rather than reading a bunch of news articles affirming what I already think of the world, I taught myself the rules for Mound Builders and got in several good games. And had fun doing it. I look forward to next Sunday morning, where I’ll either play more Mound Builders or lay down some more neural pathways and teach myself a new game.

Used to, I was most worried about dying of a sudden heart attack, as seems to happen to the male members of my family in their ’60s or earlier. But now that I see my mother wrestling with Alzheimer’s its that which I fear more than anything else. Some theorize that increasing your neural pathways is a great way to keep your brain healthy, and learning rules for new games is certainly one way to do that — and to have fun as well.