March 25, 2019

Life: What Are You Trying To Teach Me?


If nothing else, six weeks away from these pages has given me plenty of time for reflection. On what? Oh, things like the powers of materialism and competition to complicate my life. On the desperately sad state of our public community and concern for others. On the importance of savoring every moment I am still on this earth. On God and spirituality and religion. On the pure joy of a simple, sunny afternoon with a good book to energize me.

Feeling blessed, with love of family and friends, knowing there is a financial foundation that will sustain Betty and me, opportunities to find ways to make my corner of the world a little less hateful and hurtful to others, and a fresh appreciation for allowing a day to unfold without forcing it into a particular direction have all risen to the surface.

Reading is a very important part of my life; it feeds and stimulates me. During this month and a half I was looking for both entertainment and writings that would force me to think a little deeper about things that are important. With much more free time, rarely did I not have a book nearby. Examples? Thank you for asking:

*The Litigators - John Grisham (pure escapism from a master)
*Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman (interesting fantasy concept)
*The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah (couldn't put it down..a must read)
*Everything Belongs - Richard Rohr (He answers my questions)
*The Lost Girls of Paris - Pam Jenoff (well-written historical fiction)
*A Bigger Table - John Pavlovitz (the need for a different religious definition)
*Amusing Ourselves to Death - Neil Postman - (what have we become?)
*Reconciliation - Benazir Bhutto (written just before she was assassinated)
*The Ragged Edge of Night - Olivia Hawker (another historical fiction novel)

and, I re-read these:

Choosing Simplicity - Linda Pierce (reaffirmation)
Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritual Independent - Rami Shapiro (gave words to what I was questioning and feeling)

On the more physical side, Betty and I planted a vegetable garden, a first for us. Strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, carrots, watermelons and cantaloupe went into the soil in mid February. Hopefully, things will mature and be part of our salads by late April. If we are pleased with the results, the Phoenix climate will allow us to put in another batch this fall. I had a little more time for bike-riding and we both joined a new gym that is less than 5 minutes away; travel time is no longer an excuse. 

Most importantly, it became obvious I was ready to experience of change of direction, a change in attitude. Time away from a routine, whether it is six weeks, 6 days, or even 6 hours, can clear away a lot of the mental clutter we all accumulate. What society says is important can be assessed with fresh eyes. Decisions on how to spend one's time become clearer. The carryover from a life of productivity and constantly moving up the ladder doesn't have to continue, if that is best for now.

To that end, I determined I am ready to take life easier. I found the time is past when I am really interested in constantly pushing for new hills to climb or setting ever more ambitious goals. I found I am happy with where my life has taken me and what I have accomplished. I am not at the "Watching the Wheels" stage that John Lennon sang about. But, I don't mind if my own journey proceeds at a slower pace than it did. I am hard-wired to keep learning. I want to "collect" new experiences, new ways of being me. But, I don't feel the need to rush. 

Carlo Petrini, the originator of the Slow Food movement, said, "The art of living is learning how to give time to each and everything."  

I agree.

And, I am happy to be back writing! 


37 comments:

  1. Welcome back! Thanks for sharing your journey.

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  2. Welcome back! Really enjoyed this. Will save it for after I retire in December :).

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    1. Glad it will be useful, Lynn. Let me know how your journey to retirement is going.

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  3. Enjoy your own retirement journey (that's what you advise everyone else to do) and remember: The one thing you can't get more of is time. Glad to have you back writing on your own terms.

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    1. Time is our only irreplaceable resource. Feels good to be back in the saddle, David

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  4. Glad you are back, Bob, and that you and Betty are doing well.

    Back in TN for two weeks after our winter spent in North Myrtle Beach. Definitely taking life slower like yourself, except for the chores and taking care of two trees that came down in our absence. Definitely picking up on reading as well, including the myriad of magazines I missed during our absence, as well as a couple of interesting books I am reading simultaneously (one on the Civil War actions and battles of Nathan Bedford Forrest, considered by many including Sherman as the best commander to come out of the CW, and a great book on the biggest battle in the Pacific War at Okinawa that my father was right in the thick of. The author's perspective is more on the minds of the combatants and the civilians of that island who suffered terribly in that battle, which proved to be unnecessary with the conclusion of the atomic bomb program). Our daughter also turned us onto a British TV series called "Peaky Blinders" which we are starting to binge watch on Netflix; outstanding acting. Many of your readers may be aware of it; we were but just never watched it until now, even though it started around 2013 in Britain.

    Continue taking it slow, Bob, and enjoy this tremendous life many/most of us have been blessed with.

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    1. We have seen Peaky Blinders...well done.

      Thanks, Chuck, for the encouraging words. And, hope the trees are not too much work.

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  5. I am glad you are back. I have missed reading your thoughts.

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  6. Hi Bob! I enjoyed the more personal approach to thoughts in this post. Just reading it felt more relaxed and at peace with where you are right now. And thank you for the recommended books. I have not read any of them before and particularly are drawn to those that offer a more inclusive spirituality--I'm going to have to read them for sure. And enjoy the garden. Our growing season here in the Coachella Valley is similar to yours so now is the time! ~Kathy

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    1. We have already started using the spinach and mixed greens..after just 5 weeks.

      A more personal approach is refreshing, for a change.

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  7. Right now we're in the stage of retirement where we want to travel and experience as much as we can while our bodies are still sound. I recently read The Nightingale and couldn't put it down either.

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    1. We were in the travel mode for the last 15 years of our retirement. But, now, simpler, shorter trips seem to be most appealing. We will certainly go to Hawaii again, probably take a cruise, and maybe another trip to Europe, but not on a twice-a-year basis.

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  8. Bob, you have a significant following with the Senior Benefits staff at our organization. We love your articles and frequently point to them with links to your articles in our own newsletter. I hope that is OK with you. We just figured that we were educating our colleagues while increasing your readership!
    Blessings and welcome back. We missed you!
    Ken Haugh

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    1. Absolutely...link away!

      Thank you, Ken, for the support!

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  9. It's interesting how many bloggers take a sabbatical or announce plans to quit, but it seems we always come back! When you start writing about your life, it's hard to turn it off. Glad you are among those to return.

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    1. Writing has been part of my creative process for so many years, I'd be lost without it.

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  10. Missed you and your bog updates - welcome back!

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    1. Thanks, Caree. I am pleased to be writing again.

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  11. Welcome back, Bob. I've always enjoyed your blog posts and the responses and look forward to reading it, whatever the subject. Did you ever check out the book "All The Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr?

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  12. I did read the Doerr and absolutely loved it. I had both my daughters and wife read it, too. It was tremendous.

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  13. Hi Bob. I'm fairly new here and have been reading your past posts. They are truly the most informative and level-headed writings I've seen on retirement. Ours is upcoming in another year or so, and we're trying to learn as much as we can, and you are surely an inspiration. I'm glad you're back but also glad you took the time you need for yourself. I've also read The Nightingale and loved it. Another good one by the same author is The Great Alone. Arizona is on our watch list for a retirement landing-place, so all thoughts on locations are most helpful. Again, thank you for your work here and all you do to help all of us.

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    1. Your comments are very much appreciated. I will check out your book suggestion.

      Retirement is such a tremendous experience and time of life. Let me know if there is any help I can be.

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  14. Bob, I was pretty sure that your hiatus would be short-lived. It is in your DNA to write. And, with an adoring fan club to provide encouragement, why not?

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  15. This blog attracts some very loyal, articulate, passionate readers. Fan club? Maybe I should sell T shirts!

    Seriously, you are correct, Suzanne about my need to express myself. And, with more posts that come from personal thoughts and actions, there is a fresh pot of inspiration to stir.

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  16. So glad to have you back, Bob! And I love your reading list. The Nightingale was also a hit with me, and I love Richard Rohr. I'll also check out the others, especially Rami Shapiro.

    Like you, we aren't as driven anymore, and we're just enjoying life at this stage and very grateful. We just visited Sedona and Phoenix with a day trip to the Pima Air & Space Museum where DH chatted with the curator about my FIL's crew and plane from WWII, as well as some drawings we have of his plane. We love our trip and we are happy to be back in our home port. :-)

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    1. Betty and I are going to Cottonwood soon for a ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad...one of the prettiest 4 hours in Arizona.

      After 33 years in AZ we have yet to see Pima Museum..probably well worth the trip.

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    2. We LOVED the Verde Canyon Railroad. DH still talks about it. And we also went in spring. Just lovely. Enjoy!

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  17. Thanks for my summer reading list, Bob!

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    1. Actually, there were 2 more Richard Rohr books I didn't list. I hadn't thought of it as a summer reading list, but you are right...it should keep you busy!

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  18. Thank you for introducing me to John Lennon’s “Watching the Wheels.” I mostly stopped listening to music after the early 1970s, and I never heard this gem before.

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    1. If he had known he was going to die within a year of recording it I wonder if his attitude toward time would have been different.

      That said, I love the song. It shows how far he had come from his Beatles days.

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  19. welcome back Bob - Olderhood has missed you! all the best Robin

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    1. Thanks, Robin. I noticed Olderhood has started reposting my material...very much appreciated!

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  20. I like your points about savouring every moment, and striving to make your corner of the world less hateful and hurtful, and letting each day unfold in a more relaxed way. These are all life lessons that I am trying to learn too. Reading — so wonderful to have time for it. I have five books on the go simultaneously at the moments. And I have always found vegetable gardening to be very satisfying (even if not always highly successful).

    Jude

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    1. We have been harvesting spinach and lettuce for the past several weeks. They are growing rapidly enough we have been able to not buy either at the grocery store for the last several weeks.

      The onions are ready while the carrots are still a bit small. Tomatoes are beginning to develop and the squash is taking shape. It is fun to watch things develop.

      You and I have very similar reading habits. My current stack is also 5 books at various stages of completion.

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