“Old Age. It’s not, as the saying goes, for sissies. There are some lucky ones who little by little slow down to be sure but otherwise go on to the end pretty much as usual. For the majority, however, it’s like living in a house that’s in increasing need of repairs. The plumbing doesn’t work right anymore. There are bats in the attic. Cracked and dusty, the windows are hard to see through, and there’s a lot of creaking and groaning in bad weather. The exterior could use a coat of paint. And so on. The odd thing is that the person living in the house may feel, humanly speaking, much as always. The eighty-year-old body can be in precarious shape yet the spirit within as full of beans as ever.”
― Carl Frederick Buechner, American writer, novelist, poet, essayist, theologian, and Presbyterian minister; from his 1988 book, Whistling in the Dark.
A friend of mine recently sent me this passage and I thought it was a vivid way to describe the process of aging. While we might not be as fast as we once were, not as energetic, not as blessed with the eyesight and the hearing of a great horned owl (Okay, most of us probably never had that to begin with) we still have passion, ambition and drive. We still want to participate, to contribute, to relate with others.
We’re not interested in afternoons filled watching Jeopardy or reruns of Oprah. Instead we have items to check off our bucket lists. Once the country fully reopens, we have games to attend, sites to see and people to visit. We once again will volunteer, teach and mentor. And I believe this time around these activities will have greater importance in living a life fulfilled.
Yep, getting old is not for sissies. At the same time, we don’t have to go quietly. We can still enjoy a life of achievement, exploration and amazement. It will be on different terms than before our retirement; it can be more spontaneous and experimental. Not being tied down by a career or raising a family leaves lots of room to get creative with how you fill your time. Have an itch to get out of town for a day or two? Go. Feel the urge to support others? Research opportunities to contribute.
I realize some of us still have obligations. You might be providing or assisting with daycare for your grandchildren or supervision of an elderly parent or loved one. If that is the case it may take a little extra planning on your part, but it can be done. I have friends in this situation. They get creative and illicit the help of family or professional agencies for assistance.
I encourage you to keep these days filled with activities that give you a sense of enjoyment, gratification and meaning. Remain enthusiastic about the possibilities your life holds and capitalize on any and all opportunities. Rise out of bed every morning knowing your purpose for the day ahead. And if you were wondering, yes, while there might be a few bats in the attic I am working to keep my spirit as full of beans as ever.
Enjoy your journey!
Gary A. Weuve, CFP®
Founder and CEO
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