Synopsis : Most people after their retirement are faced with the eternal question of what to do with their life specially those who have been very busy with their work and did not spend much time with their family. The blog looks at the way a person can balance his life between his work and his family without ignoring neither and find many satisfying things to do in retirement .
Source : Google photo
There comes a time in everyone’s life at some point when people ask or need to ask the question – what now? It may be an innocuous simple question but it has a very profound meaning. The question can be asked at any point in the life of a person from a very young age to a very old age or anywhere in between and each time the answer may depend upon the circumstances , age, priorities, living conditions, educational struggle, job struggle , relationship that is developing or on going and numerous other factors.
Young people may have very different priorities than the old people. They may say that having a girl friend or boyfriend is the priority or developing or improving this budding relationship is the priority. I know that this has something to do with the hormones raging through their bodies that urge them on often to do foolish things that they regret later on like eloping or dropping out of their studies because they got a girl knocked up so they go downhill from there. We at some point are driven by our biology more than anything else that is based on the scientific evidence that we are all hard-wired to think that way although to some it may sound like crass and glamourless.
It is really no different from the feral cat we have in our garden that gets knocked up several times every year and keeps on producing litter of 5 or 6 kitten each time that we do not know what to do with . Luckily they do not go to college and do not worry about many things we as humans worry about. They also do not worry about getting a good job somewhere and earn a living so their life is very simple. All they need is some food to sustain them so the garbage bins come in handy and some other cats to fight with at which they excel. The uneducated masses who are poor and live below poverty line often behave like feral cats including the fighting part fueled by alcohol and drugs but educated people generally speaking know better so they tend to make good decisions.
We humans are more complicated as the demand from the parents, friends and the society in general puts pressure on us to go to college and later get a good job, get married and the rest which is the same in every society in every country if you discount the Kiko Kikos of the Kalahari who live in peace in nature and worry only about how to get some food and water daily. I envy them because their life is so simple and free from the stress we all suffer from time to time due to various reasons.
So I come back to the eternal question – What now!!!
As we grow older meaning more than 60 years, our priorities change and we start to think about many other things like retirement and what to do afterwards. I know some people do not or cannot retire at 65 because of their commitments so they keep on working until they drop dead, never having a moment of peace to enjoy while there are a few daredevils who just quit at the age of 50 or even 40 and decide that they do not enjoy the rat race and would rather go to Marrakech in Morocco or Kathmandu where the weed is cheap and living at the basic level costs not much.
I envy such people because it takes courage to do so to leave your comfort zone and jump into the unknown in the wider world where you may get stung by a scorpion in the desert or break a bone falling off a camel in the Gobi but they are the free spirits that only a few people have so on the whole they enjoy life in a way that is not possible if one is tied to his job all the time and has no vacation time worth talking about just because at the age of 40 or 50 they are still paying off their student loan and the mortgage not to mention all the bills that keep showing up like clockwork.
It reminds me of the movie in which two old and sick people (Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson) in a hospital ward suffering from their terminal cases become friends and one day one of them asks – what we will do if we knew we had a very limited time in our life just like the doctor says? So one says he would like to go fishing in Alaska or climb Everest if he still can.
In the end they did just that by sneaking off from their hospital ward still wearing their smock and looking over their shoulders like naughty children about to do more naughty things and getting very excited about it. They jumped off a plane and parachuted on a farmer’s field landing on a pile of manure and laughed their heads off. They gave the police a hard time in Rome who thought that they were two crazy people on a scooter. They ate anything and everything to their heart’s content and threw away all their medications. In short they had a whale of a time and enjoyed tremendously not caring about a thing in the world until the lights slowly dimmed on them but they died laughing.
Oh I envy such people who could do this and were so courageous to take on the world this way during their last remaining days.
So we all have our different priorities in life at a certain age. How seriously we take our priorities depends upon the character of the person and his financial ability to do so. If you have acquired all your life all manner of junks and artifacts , money and time deposits etc. then sooner than later you should realize that you cannot take anything with you where we all are going someday so a wise person starts to get rid of all the material things. I call it divestment.
I have taken up writing that I enjoy because I found out that you my readers in more than 90 countries like to read them and everyday encourage me to write more so it has been fun doing so. I am not going to climb Everest or go to Gobi riding camels because I am not an outdoor person now although it was different when I was young and did foolish things like we all did at some point. I can tell you stories that will make you laugh your heads off if you only knew all my capers but I will not get into that.
OK I will just mention one caper that I previously did not write about. One time I was hitch hiking toward Big Sur in California and was to meet one person there but it got dark so I spread my sleeping bag in a forested area near a stream not paying much attention to the wild life. In the middle of the night I heard a growl of a wild animal near me and crept into my sleeping bag hoping that the animal will go away and not eat me alive. I was scared and did not peep to see what it was and was relieved when it went away not bothering me .I had nothing to defend myself with and realized that I did a very foolish thing and promised myself not to do it again. May be it was a friendly mountain lion although I do not know if there are friendly mountain lions so I was lucky.
But the luck has a way of slipping out of your fingers if you do it again and learn nothing from your capers. I did and am afraid of wild animals since then. Our daughter poses with cheetah in Zambia saying that the animal was tame but she has more courage than most people I know including myself.
So what Now? I think this question needs some answers. I have met retired people who were so discouraged of their day-to-day mundane life that they soon gave up and croaked. They could not decide what to do with themselves after retirement. Another fellow could not stop smoking and told me with a wink that only one of his lungs was working but he wanted to die smoking so that is what he did a few months later. The fellow had spunk.
I think it is very important for everyone to straighten up their priorities at some point and say this is what I would like to do from now on and just do it. There is so much to see, so much to do, so much to experience. so many new people to meet, so many different foods to taste, so many new mischiefs to make never mind if you are old. I wish I knew some old people who are like those two naughty people in the movie. They have spunk.
The often repeated cliché the old age is nothing but a perception , it is just a number etc. can be put aside for a moment and think for a minute what you would like to do if you had a short time to live.
Now I am not saying that you should go to Serengeti and try to hug a cheetah or a lion or jump off a small plane with or without a parachute and such things but I am sure everyone has some hidden talent that he or she never got the time or the opportunity to develop .
Some go the spiritual way and find some solace in the company of others so inclined but I prefer the people who have some spunk left in them and are ready to make mischief if given half the chance with a wink and a swagger.
But seriously, life is not about narcissism or at least it should not be. There are many things people can do to help others in need. Some kids need a mentor to guide him or her through troubled time so give them a hand by counsel, tutoring and books that are overflowing in your library. Some people need a little push to get them over to do something positive in their life so give them that push. Others may learn from you how to write and maybe someday become a famous writer themselves. Some need a guardian who comes to their aid in need in many different ways. It does not have to be always money or gifts but can be just a little help, advice or showing the way to do the right things. Adopt a child and give him or her a new life with love, education and guidance.
These are all very rewarding experiences for anyone who asks “what now”. Do it joyfully and eagerly so that you can say that you spent your life well and then slowly fade away like an old soldier.
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