Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 504(289) Looking for Direction

Welcome to Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

Birds sing. A summer breeze blows. Progress is made with every swipe of the knife. No phones ring. No glowing screens demand attention. No music or voices can be heard. I don't hear power washers as they clean my roof and I don't pay anyone.  I clean the moss from the edge and grove of each shingle with a sharp knife. I'm in the flow or in the zone as they say.

What do you do that makes time disappear? We all have those moments when we look at our watch and exclaim, "I can't believe that! Where did the time go?" Those are the  moments when we are most ourselves. We have found our bliss. We are  "in the flow", of have, "found our game". We are doing just exactly what we should be doing. When retired folks tell me that they just don't know what to do in retirement I think of those moments when we "loose ourselves". That's where we need to look for guidance.

This affirms the old adage that it is when we loose ourselves that we find ourselves. We might loose ourselves in our music or art. We might loose ourselves in our garden or kitchen. We might loose ourselves volunteering at the animal shelter or helping to build a house for Habitat for Humanity. When we pause, or the task is complete we take a deep breath and become aware of where we are or what we have been doing. We are reminded of Thoreau's line about drifting idling on Walden Pond and ceasing to think and beginning to be. We just are.

We like those moments when we overcome our own self-awareness and merge into something greater than ourselves. We are "one with the universe" as the Buddhist would say. We try to build these moments into our daily lives. At least I do and I assume you do as well.

For me It starts with practicing the art of Tai Chi every morning. The focus is on balance and movement for just a few minutes. I concentrate, move, but yet remain still and then I sort of disappear. Muscles come awake sharing and seeking balance with others. Lungs expand and contract. Eyes see nothing. A meditative state is entered. It is a great feeling. Next thing I know the routine is complete and 15 minutes has elapsed.

Those new to retirement and having a tough time figuring out just exactly what they want to do with this new phase of life could do well by asking themselves what they really like to do. And by that I mean things they like to do so much that they loose themselves in it.

Another place I loose track of time is when I play my guitar. I do this for a one to two hours each morning and another half-hour to an hour each night. (That is unless something special is going on - like company or a night out.) I always have a hard time stopping and can't believe the time. I've been lost.

Time also evaporates for me when I write - like one of these podcasts. I never know exactly what the topic might be when I sit down and begin and I certainly don't know where it will lead. Once started it just moves and then I notice that I have said all I really want to about a specific topic. Then its over and I look at the clock. I am always surprised by the lapse of time.

It is that loss of oneself that is appealing. It is that area that some psychologist call 'flow' that is so desirable. We get swept away. That is why that phrase is used when referring to someone who has just fallen in love. They are "swept away". Time stops for them and their life is caught in a current of their own highest desires. They have found their bliss.

Athletes sometimes use that term "flow" to indicate rhythm and perfect blending of intention and action. They are in balance. Sometimes they use the word "zone" to mean the same thing. They have their "game on".

That is what we really desire in life. We don't really want to sit in a chair and watch others live on television. We want to loose ourselves in our thought. We want to loose ourselves on the golf course. We want to find our bliss and then experience it as much as we can.

For me, I'll just keep that ladder propped up against the house. Who would have thought that a little bit of moss and a sharp knife is all I would need?

Where and when do you find yourself lost?

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