Today I had to crawl under the house and do some plumbing repairs. It was an unpleasant job; cob webs, claustrophobia inducing narrowness, legs cramping from trying to maneuver in so tight a place. It required thinking, planning and going to the hardware store to buy materials. I got the job done and, after a shower, while relaxing in the recliner, a thought came to me about the importance of problems in our lives. It’s only natural to think that the good life is one with clear sailing and no storms, or a smooth highway with no pot holes. And that got me thinking about retirement and I realized it was time for my annual retirement report.
Over the years I have come to realize that a life worth living is one that is balanced between tension and détente. Eastern philosophers would call it Yin and Yang. Most of us experience the vicissitudes of life daily in our work and personal relationships, but retirement removes most of the stress and conflict in living. When you operate on a lower income and reduced opportunity for social contact life runs along smoothly but is less interesting.
I am fortunate to have been able to live two lives in one lifetime. I grew up in Southern California, met and married Dorothy and we had a life in the suburbs of Los Angeles with our two little girls. When the girls were 10 and 8 years old we moved to Oklahoma and I worked at an entirely different career until I retired 8 years ago. We traded suburban living for a life in the country. We saw our girls through their teenage years, marriage, and grand kids.
I can’t help but wonder if, at 68, there might be a third life to live. I’ve been dabbling in art, music, and gardening for these years, but as I learned with the plumbing repairs, there is a significance that one achieves when confronting and solving problems. Now, don’t think that I have been overcome by senior angst. This is not depression. It’s more of an awakening. We all evolve throughout our lifetimes. At least, we should. Our perception of reality is quite different from when we were children. We grow older and learn and experience new things. It may be time to throw myself back into the milieu. I simply desire to live.