The new space is foreign and each of us enters into it the same way. Everything is new and wondrous. Each person we encounter, and every object, is a surprise. Our eyes will see, our ears will hear and we will eventually recognize those who we are dependent upon for our very existence. When we arrive, hopefully awaiting us are people who looked forward to our coming. They have waited with great anticipation; they will love us and welcome us and our every need will be met. We will find comfort, nourishment and love. This is a safe environment. This is only the beginning.
Our journey will take us down many paths, and along the way we will have many choices. Some will lead to experiences that will enhance and enrich our lives. Others might impact our lives in a negative manner. Hopefully we will learn from all the experiences. The learning of skills will bring knowledge and broaden our horizons. Like sponges we will absorb and take in information to be stored in our memory to be used when the occasion arises. We will travel along, some passively, like water flowing over stones, others determined and actively participating and partaking in the world around us so we may satisfy our curiosity and fill our needs.
Our journey will allow us to be touched by people who we meet either by chance or by design. The people we meet may impact us and they will affect our thoughts, actions and emotions depending upon how much we invest in any of the relationships. This trip we call life, will have some momentous occasions. There may be some incredible highs and some devastating lows. These events should enable us to mature and develop life skills that are needed to live a well-balanced fruitful existence.
Our journey is sometimes well planned from childhood. Our formative years become the major concern of parents. The right environment, proper schools and moral direction are imbued in our rearing. It seems planning is a major part of our lives. Sometimes plans are changed to accommodate us as we travel through.
As we become adults we now have to make decisions as to our careers, marriage and raising families. What a road we must travel, but we do sometimes stumbling, sometimes reaching height or goals we have set for ourselves. One of the most important decisions to make is to choose the right mate to share our lives. Sometimes it takes more than one to find the right one. Nevertheless, we search, explore and plan.
Many times in the latter part of the journey we do not utilize the time left in a productive manner. Unfortunately, many do not use the same program of planning when it comes to retirement. Many times it is left to chance. Hopefully we have lived and experienced growth, maturity and security. If, in fact, we have reached retirement in reasonably good health, this is the opportunity to do some of the things we have put off in the past because of obligations and restrictions. Let us stop here. This does not mean we should not enjoy ourselves along the way. There is time to cultivate interests to be utilized when we retire.
Sometimes retirement comes and there is so little time left to enjoy. Leisure time does not mean to become stagnant. Retirement does not mean being a recluse or inactive. Preparation for this stage of life is as important as the ones we planned for earlier. This is a time for self-evaluation. This is a time for finding a comfortable niche, continuing to explore and to discover what is necessary to maintain a feeling of being fulfilled and useful.
This new era of retirement brings an unfamiliar setting with time available and a new sense of freedom. Preparation is necessary to avoid being bored, lethargic and time to adjust to this stage of life. It is difficult when people find themselves alone, either through the loss of a mate or a change in their personal status. This time for some is “che dolce fa niente” or how sweet to do nothing. For others it is a time to do the things that have been put off.
This wondrous journey from birth to the final destination, I feel, is the most important aspect of what we have accomplished in this span of life. How have we utilized the time allotted? Can we recapture the awe of our beginnings and maintain an interest in our lives and those around us? As in all of the stages we have lived through, there are always adjustments. Hopefully, we can find ways to come through these times with a feeling of peace, contentment and well-being.
Linda Alessi, of Lebanon, is a regular contributing columnist. She writes about life in the golden years.