The retirement chapter of life has been my most challenging. Perhaps because I was thrust into it without a plan. Like many readers, I have lived a (heretofore unrecognized) privileged life. Despite some disappointments and tragedies, I could rely on the support of a loving and supportive husband, daughter, friends, and family. I found meaning in a successful career.
I raced through life, balancing everything. I expected my life to go well. And, for the most part, it did.
Until it didn’t. I was unprepared for what followed.
There are many courses and books available to help; but, as I usually do, I look to people to inspire me.
So, what I have learned? First, I have stopped racing through life and recognize that it is a gift, health is a gift, friends are a gift, family is a gift. Gratitude and happiness are choices. I guess I can summarize my learning into three themes:
- Never stop dreaming.
It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” Gabriel Garcia Marquez
“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” Langston Hughes
- Appreciate the wisdom gained through life experiences.
“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” Robert Frost
“Wisdom is the reward for surviving our own stupidity.” Brian Rathbone
- Appreciate the time gift of time.
“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.” Frank Lloyd Wright
“As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed at twenty-two, you’d always be as ignorant as you were at twenty-two. Aging is growth. It’s more than the negative that you’re going to die, it’s also that you understand you’re going to die, and you live a better life because of it.”― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie
So how does this show up?
My friend, Dodie, 80, decided to go skydiving.
That’s right, skydiving.
I had to learn more.
Q: Why skydiving?
Dodie: This is been on my bucket list for a long time. At first, I wanted to confront fear. I ended up experiencing fear earlier on a climb and repel journey. But I still wanted to do it and watched a couple of YouTube videos and I saw a 96-year old woman doing it. So I knew that I could do it.
Q: This is a tough time to be doing this with COVID 19; fear of broken bones, etc.
Dodie: It was a tandem jump (where you are belted in with an experienced sky diver), so I felt safe. Everything was COVID 19 protected. I stayed in the moment and I wasn’t nervous or fearful.
Q: How did it feel?
Dodie: When they opened the door and I put my feet out, I was awestruck. There is nothing that I could compare this to. Not like hang gliding or fast skiing. It was exhilarating. I fell 5,000 feet in 60 seconds. But I did not feel like I was falling.
Q: Is this a different experience for you at this age rather than when you were younger?
Dodie: Yes, definitely. In my younger years, I would have raced through it. But time has taught me patience and to live in the moment. I don’t think about yesterday or tomorrow…just today.
In my younger years I might have worried about it. But I had seen the videos and I wasn’t afraid. Since I live in the moment, I didn’t anguish over it at all.
Also, I had nothing riding on this. I chose to do it for the experience only, and I had no expectations.
And I enjoyed every second.
Q: What advice would you like to share?
Dodie: Bring a cheering section, it makes it even more fun. Everyone was cheering as I landed, and it became a celebration.
But mostly, remember that you are never too old and it is never too late.