Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?



Episode 507(294) Neighbors

Welcome to Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

Our neighbors went to the London Olympics. They have been our neighbors for  10 years or more. We go to their house every Christmas Season for a party. They are great neighbors. They mind their own business; they are friendly, they are quiet and they are neat. We like them a lot but they had never been in house until they returned from their trip. Why? Why did we not have them over years ago?

We have other neighbors on the other side of our house. They possess the same traits as the first. They had never been in our house until . Why are we so estranged? Why have we not extended an invitation to these folks to come into our house for wine or coffee and conversation? Sometimes our own actions perplex even ourselves.

Sometimes we do things and never really know why we are doing them.  I have been known to curse myself on occasion with, "Why did I do that" or "How could I have been that stupid?" Sometimes we don’t do things and then wonder why we haven’t done that before. Is it a sign of stupidity or just being lazy? Or perhaps it is a fear of being rejected, or a fear of somehow affecting a very amiable relationship. It could be any of the above but here is what happened when we bridged the gap.

Our neighbors who had just returned from the Olympic games and we had not had time to talk to them about the experience. Walking back from coffee one day we decided to invite them over for desert and conversation one evening soon. I stopped at their house and knocked and the invitation was enthusiastically received that ver day.Then I walked across the street and asked the other neighbors if they would be interested in coming. They also enthusiastically accepted.

When the evening came they both entered the house at the same time. The living room exploded in conversation and laughter. The Olympians were elated to have someone to share their excitement about their trip. They just ran with the ball and story followed story. The other neighbors and we encouraged the dialogue with questions and exclamations.

After and hour or so we moved to the dinning room for dessert, coffee and more wine.  Three hours flew by. We were still talking and laughing. Six adults who had lived as neighbors for more than ten years and never engaged in more than passing conversation about the weather or grandchildren. We had lots to talk about.

We did not broach the subjects of politics or religion. I have a strong feeling that we would be poles apart in our political positions. But if we do continue our conversation perhaps it will be good for all of us to exchange views in a civil and friendly fashion. That’s my hope. It is hard to believe that civility would be possible in this day and age when all political discussion seems to start and stop in lack of good intentions, distrust, anger. No one wants to listen. We will see.  

We did reinforce positive comments about other neighbors. When the evening ended everyone hugged each other and said with real conviction, “We have to do this again”. We have lived in this house for 28 years and have never experienced such a good time with our neighbors.

I have always talked about the importance of neighborhood and yet have done very little to actually bring it to life on my street. It is so easy to intellectualize away from my front door. It is much easier to pull the shades and flip a switch to find electronic friends and keep my inner complaints alive inside my own mind.

Then again, perhaps I am being a bit hard on myself. Today it is easy to be friends with folks who live across town or in other towns. This might be the only way to find like minded people. We are not restricted by happenstance and blind luck as to who lives in the house next door. There is only so much time and energy that can be devoted to friendship. We need some time to ourselves. At least I do and it is probably safe to assume you do to.

Neighbors are important and we might all find more comfort in life by engaging those close by rather than spending all of our time reaching across the world via Facebook for friends. We could at least give it a change.  It isn’t an all or nothing choice. There is no reason we can’t have both. It just takes a little time and effort.

And concerning the Olympics: the conclusion was that if you want to go to the Olympics by all means do so. But if you want to watch the Olympics stay home and get yourself a big screen TV..

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