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Episode 162 Looking Ahead; Looking Back

Each yearly turn of the calendar calls into question what we are doing with our lives. The popular press inundates us with reviews of the year, decade or century. We are encouraged to do the same.

This is Retirement Talk. This is Del Lowery.

Reviewing our personal lives of the past year, decade or century can be dangerous. Of course, it may also be rewarding. On the last day of a recent 12 day road trip my wife and I started to reminisce about all of the trips we had taken over our 44 years of married life. They ranged from a three day honeymoon drive from Waterloo, Iowa to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin to more exotic trips in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Arctic.  It was fun to review but when we were done we put the list away and moved on down the road. It is what's down the road that is important to us now.

That seems to be the way it is with looking back and looking forward. The review mirror is good for only a glance. We want to keep our eyes on what is in front of us. At least that the way it is with me. I know some folks, retired and not retired, who seem to keep looking in that review mirror. They like to look back; back to high school, back to college, back to the war, back to the old days. They dwell in the past. I can't do that.

That's the way it is with each New Year. I need to refocus on what is out front. What will happen? That's the question.

We retired people face a particular peculiar problem. For us, the work-a-day world does not determine our daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly schedule. We can pick and choose. We can enroll in college classes, develop a ridged schedule of fly fishing, watch more television, or read more books. We could even write our own book, learn to fly an airplane, or become an artist of one sort or another. Ah, to be retired.

Of course one big obstacle looms just in front of us. The willingness to commit to any one thing or another. We have a friend that has made that her choice. She wants to leave every day open to serendipity. What ever happens - happens. She does not want to play the cello on a daily basis, or the piano, or paint, sing or dance. She just wants to let life roll along and see what happens. How is it working? She says that she is quite happy doing that. It doesn't cause her concern or angst.

It is the concern or angst factor that interests me. If you have no concerns or angst about what you are doing with your life you must be doing something right. This assumes that you have examined your own life with care.

This is a tough nut to crack. Speaking for myself, the decision of what to do with my life is always under scrutiny. Being assured and living without angst is noticeable missing. I'm not sure if that is good or bad but that's the way it is.

Every time I look down the road to see where I'm going I see all of these other roads that diverge and dip into the undergrowth to reveal what I will never see. And I wonder about those. I wonder what life would be like if I go that particular direction. Or that one, or that one. But of course we can travel only one at a time. I'll have to leave the others for another day.

As years roll by we're allowed more time to choose different paths; to explore new roads. Now all we have to do is make up our mind as to which direction we want to go. We can't just sit here in the middle of the highway and let life wiz on by. Best to jump up and start down one of the many. We can't just sit here and wait for Godot. Then again, I guess we could  - but it isn't for me.

This is Retirement Talk.