As we get older we start to realize our yesterdays will exceed our tomorrows. The optimism of youth has given way to the realism of age. We are the baby boomers, the generation born between roughly 1946 and 1965. The first wave of us reached age 65 in 2011 and the upsurge of gray heads is under way.
Many of us will attempt to hold on to waning youth. There are many companies and individuals wanting to sell us that youth in the form of pills, potions, and a host of “secrets” that will plug into our natural desire to remain what we feel we have always been. Our emotions will be manipulated, our fears will be enhanced. I will have lots more say about these emotions in future posts. But what follows here is the groundwork of dealing with them.
Some of us are ready to embrace the amazing opportunity that comes with age. We see the coming years as a time of reflection and contemplation. A time to step back from the mad pursuit of material things and take stock of it all. This can be a time of slowly freeing ourselves from the demands of the world and really attend to our inner selves. It can be a time of applying the lessons we worked so hard to learn and live our later years in contentment. In other words, we can learn to cultivate serenity and happiness and live lives of peaceful, poetic beauty.
So I’ve been thinking about the steps to take that would optimize my chances of that peaceful life. While this may seem obvious, the first step is an inner emotional commitment to that goal. So often we are presented with information about lifestyle choices that we get caught up in the options without having had enough time to know what we truly, deeply want. Further, the choices available to us can cloud our judgements about our desired lifestyle by distracting us from the “actual inner desire” to an “object of desire”. Here is what I mean by this.
I recently saw an ad for an adult lifestyle community. It offered all kinds of services geared towards retirees, in particular the community itself. It was a townhouse community with each unit nestled side by side. One would simply walk out the back door and there would be everyone else’s tiny back yard. Lots of company! The townhomes were new, lovely, and the price was right. I felt the immediate urge to talk to the realtor and find out more as I was suddenly desiring one of these homes. But something was unsettled within me. After some reflection I realized that I had not really thought much about living in a close-knit retirement community like this and was reacting the to the advantages of the lifestyle, based on the advertising. This is what I mean by the object of desire being a distraction from actual inner desire. Without having invested some time thinking about how I actually want to live, I did not have a clear sense of whether this community lifestyle is or is not for me.
So it seems to me that the starting point for making choices about retirement living (or any lifestyle choices) is to take as much time as needed to consider one’s actual inner desires. This will set the stage for then seeking the locations, products and services that will support that desire. I know that one of my primary desires for retirement living is….you guessed it….serenity! Having this as a known inner value really makes a difference in how I react to advertised choices.
So take as much time as you need to give this some thought. Even if you are already retired and are considering your living options, the same thinking applies. Look to your deepest desires for peace and happiness as guides to your choices. I suspect that this will provide the best chance of making the right choice and achieving that serene, beautiful retired life.