Just look at the topics percolating in my novel Nearly Canaan.
Take just ten, shaken or stirred or mixed in a bowl:
Promise. The word has many meanings, including ability, talent, potential, opportunity, guarantee, understanding, agreement, contract, oath, pledge, vow. It can also have quite different meanings for each person. In this novel, especially, it’s a promised land, a dream, and sometimes even a broken promise.
Place. This story is rooted in the surrounding landscapes, beginning with a small-town on the prairie and moving on to the Ozarks before landing in the desert interior of the Pacific Northwest, where Mount Rainier and the Cascade Range and Seattle beyond also play into the action.
Intimacy. The story goes behind closed doors, for sure.
Friendships. In this story, these usually arise among the couples and their shifting inner dynamics. Often, these friendships prove essential for daily survival.
Family. Jaya becomes quite fond of her in-laws and their support despite their initial differences.
Spirituality. It’s not just faith and meditation but a meaningful faith community, too.
Career. Jaya isn’t the only young adult trying to navigate a demanding career in this story. The long hours and endless struggles of being a rising executive even in nonprofit organizations take a toll. As for their spouses? Finding their own niche is not always easy.
The seasons. Dwelling in an apple orchard, Jaya and her husband observe the rhythms of the year close up.
Wilderness. Part of the allure of the Pacific Northwest is its access to forests and mountains, but open desert is wilderness, too.
Lasting impact. For many in their circle, Jaya is seen as the Wise Woman who fosters a better life. How far does her impact extend?
No to brag, but I’m in pretty good shape for my age. Admittedly, that’s setting the bar low. Still, there’s a lot I don’t like when it comes to getting older. For example.
Everyday aches and pains. Well, I was fine until I took up daily exercise.
Slowing down. I run out of energy in tackling chores, for one thing. An hour or two and I’m ready to quit. On the other hand, retirement has allowed me to focus more fully on my writing and reading projects. At least when the chores don’t get in the way.
Balding and graying. Among other matters of vanity.
Diminished sex drive. Ouch! Let’s not call it libido.
Fuzzy memory. OK, I do have a lot more crammed into my cranium, but retrieving specifics can be difficult. And that leads to worries about Alzheimer’s or dementia. Not that I can stop any of the aging progressions, which could be a point of its own.
Realizing all the babies in the neighborhood have now graduated from high school or college. At least the ones when we moved here. Or, for that matter, being called “Sir” rather than “Dude.”
Being required to take a handful of pills every morning. Well, it could be worse, like rounds twice a day. Obviously, we’re not talking about recreational drugs, either.
Seeing old acquaintances for the first time in years and being shocked at how old they’ve become. Sometimes I don’t even recognize them. Worse yet, they don’t recognize me.
Overhearing things. Like the kid in the swimming pool locker room who turned to his uncle and proclaimed, “That man’s old,” when I’m the only other person present.
And this. Realizing I’m now the oldest generation in many of my circles and expected to fill the role of the Old Wise One. The ones who went before were so much better.