An elder friend told me years ago, ‘old’ is always ten years older than you are right now! Actually, I still do struggle with the apparent fact that I am now 63 years old. In my mind people in their sixties are like my grandparents. They are retired, checked out of the work world. I barely remember my grandparents before they retired. I mostly remember them as elderly folks who hung out a lot watching TV. This all reminds me of how different and out of it I must seem to kids today.
I’m beginning to think I’m the last person on planet earth who has never owned a “smart” phone and never really needed one.
I still communicate with my friends through e-mail to set up dates, etc. It works and does not add all those additional monthly expenses for mobile phones. I suppose my thrifty nature has made it possible for us to retire early… But then you do run into the whole, “What do you do with your life now?” question.
First of all, anything would be better than my life back in 2004 when I lost my last job. I was driving a hour each way to Denver to work at Regis University Libraries. I swear I’m still suffering from back and shoulder pain from that daily trek down I-25 to a job I hated, with people who apparently hated me. After six years I got fired in a way that felt like the end of life itself, but turned out to be the best thing ever! Yes, my life since then has been the perfect example of this Chinese parable from 2,000 years ago:
A Chinese farmer gets a beautiful horse, but it soon runs away. A neighbor says, “That’s bad!” The farmer replies, “Good news, bad news, who can say?”
The horse comes back and brings another horse with him. Good news, you might say.
The farmer gives the second horse to his son, who rides it, but is then thrown and breaks his leg.
“So sorry for your bad news,” says the concerned neighbor. “Good news, bad news, who can say?” the farmer replies.
In a week or so, the emperor’s men come and take every able-bodied young man to fight in a war. The farmer’s son is spared...
Proving once again that nothing is as it seems at the time. From my first (and ONLY!) firing as a professional librarian at age 49, I learned that it’s best not to get too hung up on what happened today. Even something that seems like the worst EVER can turn out to be a hidden opportunity to improve your life!
My best example of this is four years ago when we moved down here to build solar in the foothills. When we first got here I was not certain this was such a great idea. Moving from an up-and-coming city like Fort Collins to a poor, quiet, rundown town like Walsenburg left me thinking,
“Is this a bad thing? Have I lost my mind?”
But resilience and patience got us through the difficult adjustment and building stage, and today I am supremely happy to be here now.
Note to myself: Allow LOTS of time for personal adjustment around major life changes.
And yes, we do find excellent ways to spend our days, even in retirement. We have learned to enjoy a much slower pace with lots of time to just be. I have also learned how to truly live in the present.
“There’s nothing sweeter than falling in love with the moment we’re given, the only one we have.” — Marcia Smalley