The changing of life’s seasons are pathways to new adventures and invitations to open ourselves up to diverse possibilities and exciting new challenges. In my life so far, I have had several seasonal changes. One I will be facing soon is retirement. My wife and I have set a date of 2025 as our retirement year.
As some of you may know, I retired from my military carrier 20 years ago. But this was not the end of my working life. My second carrier in non-government work will eventually span 24 years. And now with just a few years remaining, we are contemplating several big changes. One of them is, of course, transitioning from our 9-5 work-life to the exact opposite – a life dedicated more to ourselves and our life dreams rather than building someone else’s.
One wise person suggested that we not suddenly stop working, but rather set transitional steps toward a slower, simpler lifestyle. We should consider volunteer work or taking on a part-time job. I like the concept, and I'll probably somehow use that good advice. But maybe not as much as other retired people I know.
If you have read any of my blogs or frequented my posts on YouTube, you might conclude that the years ahead of me would be filled with even more hiking, backpacking, and spending time in nature than what I do now. This, of course, is part of the plan. But what you might not know is that I also very much enjoy gardening and woodworking. I will quite likely be doing a good share of all these things, assuming I am blessed with good health.
Like most people, I don't like to admit that I'm not young anymore. A quick glance in the mirror is a stark reminder of my tenure. But regardless of what that guy looks like, my age and the potential to do more than my age might suggest is, to some degree, a mindset.
Our minds are powerful agents. Staying positive promotes youthfulness and vitality. But our life choices are maybe even more important. We choose to stay active rather than slowly melting our bodies and minds away in front of the TV. We choose to make healthy food choices, instead of indulging in the temptation of processed foods. My wife and I maintain a garden, which keeps us active and eating healthy, organic foods. All these good choices help in our fight for longevity and joyful living.
When I take time to reflect on my situation, I'm reminded that I am not so much older as I am wiser. For instance, my body has recently reminded me that I should not be walking 30-mile days on long-distance hikes anymore. The better choice has been to hike that same trail with shorter and less impactful days. It still means I meet the same objective, but in more days. It also does not take away from the enjoyment, nor does it result in less satisfaction. In fact, I am finding that I am getting more enjoyment and satisfaction by slowing down and being more intentional about the experience (rather than the goal). And the most obvious benefit is that I get to stay in nature longer. That is wisdom.
My message to those who feel defeated by the idea that “you’re getting too old for that” is that we have a grand opportunity before us, because we have tools we did not have when we were young. We have much more experience and knowledge. We should still do what we love for as long as we can, but in this season we need to do it differently. And we might find that we appreciate and enjoy it even more now than our younger self did.
I don't yet fully understand if all this is good advice, but I cannot help but believe that the approach I am envisioning for myself will produce a deeper and more potent experience.
I do know that I fully intend on embracing this coming change of seasons. I hope to widen and explore this new field of possibilities and opportunities. I am ready to accept new challenges on my own terms with a more mature understanding. It is my time now. How about you?