My hammock catches me well before I hit dirt and rock. Rivers can provide us answers to our questions. All too often rivers prompt us to ask better questions. Do we really have a choice in how to respond to the filling our 6,000 blank pages?
Turning on my side I ask my question directly to the river. When I’m financially prepared for retirement can’t I handle pretty much anything that comes my way? A gust of wind blows thousands of leaves, swirling through the air. A vole disappears down a hole. Most would agree. I disagree. I used to work out to attract women; lately I do it to stay alive! While I’m at the gym I’m once again reminded of the song and need to row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream.
It wasn’t until my first semester of college when I first put the pieces together for myself. I decided I would semi-retire creatively at the age of 55, which I did at 56. My really cool American Lit professor assigned the class to read Victor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning” describing his experiences; years he spent in a Nazi prison camp. I was up all night finishing it in one read.
The following day I shared with the class how fascinated I was by the way Victor stayed mentally active (strong) in prison. One example he played 18 holes of golf everyday on various courses sometimes inviting his fellow prisoners into his visualization. I couldn’t get over how he endured the suffering he did while other prisoners simply gave up and died soon thereafter.
After class I asked my professor why Victor refused to leave the prison camp when finally offered the opportunity only to allow others his spot and freedom. I was dumbfounded by this obvious contradiction and fascinated by the psychological implications. My professor explained that Victor was already free even in prison because that’s how he chooses to respond to his circumstances. Therefore it was only right that he let the other prisoners take his spot on the outside so they could be free too! When the war eventually ended he was released and wrote his book which impacted me greatly.
It really does come down to how you choose to respond to becoming older. While living in older age it matters less what happens to you and more how you respond to your circumstances. You really can create the life you want for yourself in older age. All that is required is planning for emotional preparedness sooner rather than later.
Staring intently into crystal clear, braided pocket water, I smile, recalling how yesterday I was getting lost in what I love doing. How will you choose to respond to filling your 6,000 blank pages?