1-26-2018 When I was working as a therapist, I often heard people say, “When this happens, then I will …. ” (fill in the blank). I will be happy, or I will be content, or I will be better off financially. I used to call them When Then People. My point is, they were waiting for something to change before they could be what they wanted to be. And in full disclosure, I have had my share of personal “When Then” moments.
As I’ve grown older and hopefully a little wiser, my life has settled a bit more into living in the now moment. I try to practice what Buddhist call “Mindfulness.” I’m not always successful, there are many nights I go to bed and one of my first thoughts is, “How did this day pass so quickly?” I’m retired and that obviously allows more time to ponder these sorts of questions. I can say with all honestly that I’ve never pondered my navel. With retirement, there has come more free time. Not more time, but more leisure time. Retirement has also allowed a lot of time for the question of, “What now?”
For me, the what now is based on three principal considerations or questions. What can I create today? What can I contribute today? and, How shall I relax and enjoy this day?
The first question is usually about writing. Writing has become a challenge, a joy and a quest. The contribute question generally is about volunteering at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, picking up a bit of trash that’s been carelessly thrown out a car window and sometimes a kind word to a troubled friend. The relaxation/enjoyment question is clearly the most fun.I did have many years of promotion seeking, money making, bigger house living and Porsche wanting. I admit my heart still goes pity-patter when a new Porsche Boxster blows past my sedate family truckster. I digress. What brings the most joy to my life today are far more simple things. A four hour drive to Pinos Altos, NM and a few days of quiet in the mountain air. It is a simple small cabin, free of CNN/FOX News screaming, free of constant Facebook checking and freedom from “I’m bored.” I never get bored in the mountains. I get alive!
One other thing adds to this pleasure, a good book. I never had the chance to chat with John Steinbeck, Charles Dickins or Lin Yutang; but I have gotten a chance to know them. I’ve told John that I loved reading Sweet Thursday. I’ve marveled at my joy in seeing Dickens create Em’ly as the charming young girl in David Copperfield. I’ve laughed at Yutang’s gentle ribbing of the Americans inability to slow down and just enjoy life.
One last thought. I read a question a few days back. It asked this, “What do you wish you could teach your younger self?” My answer is simple. Don’t be a When Then person, be a Right Now person. Go find that mountain, pick up a book and live.