This is Del Lowery with
“Retirement Talk”. On today’s program I
want to give you a couple of examples of the pursuit of happiness as I have
experienced them. This is all in accordance with the Spinozian theory that was
the topic our last program.
Recall that Spinoza advised
us to realize that happiness lies in the movement from a state of lesser
perfection to yet that of a greater one. To him, happiness, lies in the movement
not the attainment a particular goal or project.
Around 10 to 12 years ago, (I’m
not sure of exactly how long), but somewhere in the distant past my daughter
bought an old VW bus. You know the kind: funky, cool and in bad need of
attention. As her father it was my ‘privilege’ to make this rig fit her needs.
Well…she was an aspiring archeologist at the time and needed something good for
camping so a new sound system needed to be installed. Then the rear seats
had to come out and a sleeping arrangement constructed. Etc.
Lying on my side on the floor
of the bus reaching for something underneath something in the back of the bus,
I twisted my back. Sciatic damage was the verdict: trips to the doctor;
limping; foot wandering; physical therapist; and drugs. Everything was tried;
nothing was successful. Desperation.
Over coffee one day I heard
of a back specialist who used Tai Chi to fix what was broken. “Revive a Back”
was the name of his business. Doctors were talking of back surgery and I didn’t
want to go there. I decided to try the Tai Chi guy.
I thought that I would give
him one visit, and if there was no improvement, that would be my first and last
visit. All these years and I have been doing Tai Chi every single day. I mean
every single day. It has been a continual progression. It is movement. It is
Spinozian. Each day there is improvement. And I mean every day; first thing in
the morning. I never skip.
My instructor taught me to
sense my body; to feel what was happening and where. It is amazing. My wife is
sick of hearing about it, but each day there is something else going on. The
back healed. The posture changed. The head position changed. The body relaxed, more,
and more, and more. I’m telling you there has been no end. It constantly amazes
me. But the study of Tai Chi has become as natural as breathing and has continually
provided me with the movement Spinoza advocated.
Another great example of
following this method was introduced to me by Miss Jo, my high school
psychology teacher. One time she drew a straight line across the board. This straight
line represented us and the life we were to lead. She then drew wavy line that
rose and dipped below the straight line. It looked like high hills and low
valleys. She then colored in all of the high hills and said that they represented
things that we have already done, or learned. How to speak the language, read,
fix a motor, cook a turkey, etc. The valleys that were not colored in
represented things we have not done or experienced. We don’t know how to swim,
how to ride a motorcycle, operate a computer, or visited New
York City or Paris.
I hope you get the picture.
She went on to say that to be
a complete person we need to come back and fill in the valleys or hollow areas.
We can continue to learn throughout our life. We need to keep expanding our
abilities, knowledge, and experiences. She advised us to, “Fill in the gaps”.
When I retired from work, I
looked at where these big holes existed. I could not read music, nor could I play any
instrument. 19 years ago I picked up the classical guitar because I loved the
sound and it was portable. It has provided me another continuing avenue for
actualizing the Spinozian advice. Every day since there has been movement
towards understanding music and perfecting this instrument. It is an endless
task. At least, it is for me.
I think it may be much easier
to learn to play an instrument at an early age, rather than in retirement. Of
course, it is probably easier to learn many things at an earlier age than at a
later one. But, time does not allow us to learn everything at an early age.
Something has to wait.
It’s those gaps one must
consider. Of course, it can be a bit frustrating, to put yourself back at the
beginning whether it is exploring a new area, or developing a particular skill.
Look at it as a lesson in humility. We all need a little dose of that now and
I recently read of a 95 year
old woman in Vancouver, BC who just hit her first hole-in-one. She’s
been playing golf 77 years. Her advice, “Don’t give up”.
The pursuit of happiness is
dear to us all; realizing that it lays in the “movement between” increases our
chances of knowing it when we see it.
This is Del Lowery with
“Retirement Talk” If you have a comment or story related to today’s topic, please
visit our website and drop us a note. We will read it on the air or perhaps
call you and let you tell your story through the podcast.
That’s me on the guitar providing
the music for this episode. The previous two episodes had music performed by my
teacher, Deborah Anderson.