Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 305 Meditation

Sometimes we just want to do nothing or at least whatever it is that we are suppose to be doing. We have no energy and no impulse to try to find some. We just want to lay low. Is there something wrong with that?

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

"Yes, there is something wrong with that", I heard someone say. It is not acceptable to just sit there. It is excusable if you are laying in the sun - working on a tan, or laying on a couch watching TV - absorbing a lot of nothing; maybe a late night talk show or a two football games back to back on Sunday afternoon. But if you just want to sit there contemplating yourself and the universe or just let life wash over you then you have a problem.

I use to watch football on TV. I use to play football and was even a high school football coach for several years. Long enough to know that it involved a lot of misplaced values. Not that there are not some good values taught in the game because there are but the negative aspects of the game came to outweigh the good for me. I had to get out. I'm sure my time has been better spent in other pursuits.

It might not be such a bad thing to build an hour a day or perhaps even more time to spend doing nothing. Perhaps that is what meditation is all about. I've never involved myself in that activity by name. I suppose I have spent as much time as the next person in trying to find myself, center myself, or quiet my inner self over the years. But I have never taken a class, or course on meditation. Perhaps I should.

A fellow colleague of mine in the teaching profession use to get up at a 5:30 ever morning so that she could meditate before work. She claimed it was better than sleep and that she, "Couldn't live without it".  She talked about focusing on breathing and getting herself into this calm yet energy loaded state that would carry her through the day.

I am an impatient man. When we decide it is time to leave a friends house after dinner and conversation. I stand, go for my coat, say goodbye and am out the door all in one smooth motion. I do not linger with small talk, big talk, or raucous laughter. My wife comes along shortly.

When we decide to do some sort of project I get up and start moving on it. I do not wait until tomorrow. When I wake in the morning I do not linger in bed but rise with a minute or two and then am doing Tai Chi within another few minutes. My first cup of coffee comes around four in the afternoon. I need nothing to help me start the day other than waking. I'm ready to roll at first sign of consciousness.

When my friend talked of waking and then meditating for an hour before work I couldn't imagine such a thing. Perhaps I should.

I'm not sure where these seemingly ingrained habits come from. I suppose they get started at a very early age. Perhaps they are genetic.I don't know that either.

Grass always being greener on the other side I have always envied those folks who can just sit back and take life as it comes: fast or slow. They have patience. They can sit still. They can live with little stimulus. They can wait for others to speak first. They can sit quietly and  let the conversation flow around them without participating. They can  keep a secret for a few minutes or for many years. They appear content with very little. They seem self contained and easily satisfied with life as it is.

I always come back back to my favorite Thoreau line about drifting idly on Walden Pond and ceasing to think and beginning to be. How does that work? Perhaps that is a dream that is made for retirement. Perhaps now is the time to sit in the sun, or the shade, and let life roll past. To feel the chest expand and then feel the air flow out in a smooth, gentle rhythm. Let the mind drift in and out, rolling over this and then that and then out to a place that has no existence. Time evaporates and perhaps there is where we may come in contact not with the material world but with the universe.

I know that sounds sort of weird, philosophical, or religious but even more important than that is that it sounds desirable at times. Especially on one of those days where we just don't want to do anything. We don't want to write the great American novel, we do not want to work in the garden and we don't want to watch the football game. We just don't want to "do something with our life". Perhaps those are the days when we are closest to having an out of body experience. An experience that dwarfs those of the material world.

This is Retirement Talk.

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