You can fast forward and rewind your life with a remote control…but!
Let me explain:
You are traveling on a train and have a chance encounter with a stranger, who upon overhearing a discussion you were having with your wife about how your lives turned out since accepting the job in 1968 that eventually led to your being transferred to Jacksonville Florida, offers you a “remote control.”
But this is not any “remote control!” This remote control has the ability to allow you to either fast forward or rewind your life. What do you do?
So many thoughts are rushing through your head. You are happy with your life. But being truthful to yourself you know that there were some moments, that had you done or said things differently, your lives may have changed. Question is would those changes had been for the better or the worse?
Being the realist that he is though, the question does cross his mind and he has to ask: What is the catch?
No catch replies the stranger. But know this, should you choose to rewind back to an earlier time and choose the path not taken – your present status in life may not be the same as it is today.
To which raises the question: What if I decide to use the “fast forward” button and like what my future looks like say ten years into the future? Can I automatically jump forward to that position?
The stranger replied: That is a definite possibility, but…………keep in mind that you will be going from what you know and have experienced up to this point in your life to ten years into the future.
What is wrong with that?
The stranger responded – whatever happened during those ten years will be a complete blank. Are you prepared to live with that – not knowing how certain things came to be?
Well, he asked the stranger: what is the point of having a “remote control” device such as this?
There is a moral to this story and I am sure when you think about it a little longer now that we have had this brief discussion you will realize what it is. And with that, the stranger proceeded to say the following:
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. – Buddha
I am a “the glass is half full” type of guy. However, that is not to say I have always been that way. Prior to retiring, and as a matter of fact, even up to a few years after that – well more than a few years after retiring, I looked at life as one where my glass was always “half empty.” I am sure we all remember the expression “the glass is half full” or “the glass is half empty”. Were I to say this in today’s age and in front of small children, I would expect to hear one of them say: “What’s that mean?”
Now that I am much older, I tend to look at my life as “half full!” This may seem a bit odd because depending on what group of people you associate with many people might feel that the glass is pretty much “half empty”. Why? because we are senior citizens!
In my humble opinion, those individuals preparing to retire must ask themselves this question: Are our glasses half-full or half-empty? One of the best ways I know to look at our lives when we reach retirement age is to look at life as though we have a half-full glass as opposed to a glass that is half-empty. Okay, for the skeptics out there, having reached retirement age, one might argue that our lives may be half-over. But that does not mean we should look at our lives as being half-empty.
True, I would have liked to know at age eighteen or even age twenty-five what I know now but one thing we all know is that we cannot turn back the clock. I am sure there are many facets of our life we wish we could relive and do it better but being realistic, the fact of the matter is there is no genie we can conjure up out of a bottle to ask for three wishes that might enable us to redo those days or years of our lives. So, what are our choices? Complain, scream, holler and say woe is me, woe is me! Nay, those are the words of an individual looking at life as if our glass is half-empty. Instead, we need to “man up” and accept our lot in life as it is and get on with it. Bottom line, we need to look at the rest of our life as if the glass is half-full.
Every morning I wake, I look forward to whatever life throws my way. Am I happy with some of the crap being thrown at me – No – but I stop and think to myself, posing the question: “Hey, will this matter five years from now or even better yet, next year?” Probably not – so why sweat the small stuff?
True, we all have issues as we get older but I have found that taking life one day at a time is the only way to move forward at this time in our life. One of the things I find helpful is writing a “To-Do” list every morning and by having a busy schedule. I’ve been retired now almost twenty-five years and the one thing I have learned is that we need to keep busy. I always thought I was a fairly healthy individual but believe me – when a sickness or health problem comes up at our age, the first thought to cross our mind, leastways my mind, is why did I let myself go. Actually neither my wife nor I have left ourselves deteriorate but we could have done more.
Today we walk as much as we can and do morning stretches to keep our bodies limber and in fairly good shape. Years ago we line danced sometimes three days a week and some weeks five days a week. It is a lot of fun and does keep you in fairly healthy shape. Staying under the covers when that alarm goes off every morning is not a luxury to us – we look at it as an early start to something new and exciting.
Reminding ourselves that we aren’t twenty-five or even fifty anymore enables us to think of some of the comedic things that we might look forward to (or not) as we age. For instance, one thing that is consistent with regards aging is that our bladder tends to remind us that we do have unfinished business that needs to be taken care of once we wake. It is usually during my morning walk to the bathroom that I remember that I am no longer 25 or even 50. For some reason or another, once you pass the three-quarter of a century mark our bones and muscles tend to remind us that we are not as young as we used to be. Another hint is when we look at ourselves in the mirror and say to ourselves – who are you – when did you get so old? Good news though is the fact that looking back at me is an elderly gentleman smiling, saying “guess what – you don’t have to go to work today, you are retired”.
While many of us succumb to many of the various ailments that come with the aging process, one has but to look at all the modern medicines available to us today that weren’t there yesterday. Modern medicine is being created and designed to enable us to cope with these ailments, enabling us to live to a ripe old age of say 80 or 90.
It is true, however, that as with any change in say natures’ plan (leaves falling from trees, flowers dying and then watching both the trees and flowers come back to life when the seasons change), we could have repercussions as we live an extended life. What repercussions you ask? Repercussions such as quality of life issues. How do we cope with such issues? By keeping each other healthy by visiting the doctor regularly, eating the proper foods, exercise, and yes, take our medications as prescribed by our doctors.
Another thing I would recommend that will provide much benefit towards living to a ripe old age is staying socially active. Loneliness can be devastating. Stay active and surround yourself with friends and relatives. Even contact via the Internet, social media, phone calls, can be beneficial as we move forward at this point in our lives. While we have quite a few friends due to our dancing and social activities, and do stay in touch with our children and relatives even though they live thousands of miles away, I personally look forward to the exchange of thoughts with friends made via Social media sites such as Facebook; Retirement-Online.com, and Lakeland Musings by Irwin. Why, because our travel time has come to a standstill due to Covid-19 and since we cannot be there in person, keeping in touch via these mediums, remind us that we are not alone during this pandemic. By staying socially active via the Internet, I know that there will always be someone to talk to and share thoughts with.
Let me end this post with the following thought for the day:
Old age is like a car. Paint can conceal the exterior, but the lines reveal the age.
Look at the balance of our lives as merely another part of our story – one that we have to live, enjoy, and share with others.
Have you ever wondered why some things are important to some people while others take a completely different point of view of that same subject? Being a simple man and not really needing much to make me happy, recently I have found that there are but a few of the many things we do each day that I look forward to. These are personal things. Things like: What the word of the day is? Which quote will cause me to stop and reflect for a minute or two as to where I am today! And finally, what funny joke or saying will I read or hear about before the day is out!
Each of these three things have become my bastion of hope that even though I am getting older and the world, at times, appears to be spiraling out of control, I look forward to seeing what I can learn each day be it in the form of a new word; famous quote; funny joke, or whatever (let’s face it – we are always or leastways should always be learning something) and doing so makes it all, let us just say, interesting!
One of my most recent words that I learned about is: Eudaimonia
According to Dictionary.com – Noun: “human flourishing”, a contented state of being happy, healthy, and prosperous.
I would venture to say that “eudaimonia” is what many of us are looking for most of our lives. To be happy, healthy, and prosperous!
Sometimes I think of quotes first thing in the morning while other times, I may be engaged in a conversation and the gist of the conversation gets me to thinking – gee – what famous quote may apply in this instance? Such was the case recently when I was in a conversation wherein the question was posed: Have you given thought to what it is going to be like when you reach your eightieth birthday? Personally, I am one of those unique individuals that think age is merely a number. However, I must say that this question piqued my interest thus causing me to look for a quote representative of age and the aging process: Below is what I found:
“Father Time is not always a hard parent, and, though he tarries for none of his children, often lays his hand lightly upon those who have used him well; making them old men and women inexorably enough, but leaving their hearts and spirits young and in full vigor. With such people the grey head is but the impression of the old fellow’s hand in giving them his blessing, and every wrinkle but a notch in the quiet calendar of a well-spent life.” ~Charles Dickens
Isn’t the above description that which we all seek – our hearts and spirits to be young and in full vigor.
Finally, as mentioned in my opening remarks, the third thing I look forward to every day is the possibility that I will hear and like a new joke. And while I am now well past the age of 70, the following one-liner about age struck my fancy: Statistics show that at the age of seventy, there are five women to every man. Isn’t that the darndest time for a guy to get those odds? Am I concerned? Nope! We (my wife and I) are coming up on 58 years of wedded bliss come May of this year and so I don’t need to worry about those odds.
As we age, we all tend to spend our times differently. I would venture to say that golfers tend to get in as much golf as their bodies will allow them to endure; individuals that have a hobby of sorts may do their best to spend more time engaged in that hobby; those that spend a bit of time doing volunteer work may find themselves spending more time at the place they volunteer. Me, with the exception of required household chores, maintaining the household budget, and seeing to it that the house is well-maintained, I spend as much time as I can doing what I like to do – reading and writing.
Whatever your situation is though, one thing we may all tend to learn as we age is that when we were younger, time seemed to be standing still whereas now that we are much older, time seems to be flying by. Don’t waste it, make every day a full day.
Here I am again sitting at my computer attempting to write this post and be creative at the same time. During this Pandemic we have all had to make sacrifices when it comes to our daily lives and how we go about our typical day. Let’s face it, we all cope in different ways!
Upon looking at past writings, I am reminded of a night several, well, many years ago when we were obligated to leave our humble abode and travel to our daughter’s place because a hurricane (Hurricane Irma) was heading for Lakeland. Living in a manufactured home means when Mother Nature decides to show her force by having a full-force hurricane make itself comfortable on your front doorstep, you do the smart thing and pick yourself up and find safer quarters. Our daughter’s apartment was ideal. So off we went.
One truly gets the meaning of the phrase: “Stop and Smell the Roses!” when told you must evacuate your home due to an impending Hurricane. And one learns real quick just how good you have it after spending one week without electric power. Especially when it is still summertime outside when the weather is extremely hot and muggy. I do not want to even think about the impending Hurricane season that will rear its ugly head come June (quite possibly May according to some weather forecasters) of this year. But I digress once again.
Back to the gist of this week’s post. As many of us have learned over the years – when we put our minds together and face whatever dilemma is facing us – we usually survive. And survive we did back then.
Lately I have been attempting to set up my desk area – writing space – if you will, in our new location (we recently moved after being in the same home for 14 years). This has become a chore in and of itself primarily because there are so many boxes that need emptying, files needing purging and I do not want to even bring up the subject of shredding. Shredding the paperwork that should have been done years ago. But, seeing how fickle this world can be, one never knows when we will need that certain receipt, tax return or what have you. So what do we do? What we have done year after year after year – we procrastinate! And before you know it, you have a stack of boxes filled with twenty-year old paperwork that needs to be destroyed. Got the picture?
What’s bad about this situation is that chances are – shortly after the item gets shredded, we learn that we should not have shredded it!!!! Okay, back to setting up my office. Having been homebound or isolated from the rest of the world as it were for over one year now, so as to keep my sanity, I look upon my office up as my sanctuary. What makes it my sanctuary, you ask! I do so with little reminders of things that make me smile. For instance, I recently hung a picture on the wall next to my desk that says:
“Grant me Patience Lord but Hurry!”
Having traveled to all fifty states of the United States as well as Mexico, Canada, parts of England and Europe, mementos from various of these places are little reminders of happy times in my life. Not only do they brighten my day but they are representative of the great life we have had.
Another picture I have is an autographed photo of Charlie Daniels and a separate picture of Dolly and I in Charlies’ trailer where we visited briefly with him after one of his performances. Charlie was one true southern gentleman. R.I.P. Charlie Daniels
Yet another plaque I have is a picture of a Beagle with his paw on an open book that reminds me of the many years I spent studying which now that I think about it helped me to get to where we are today. What’s that – you want to know what is so special about this Beagle – See for yourself:
Again, just another thing to make me smile.
Other things I hope to adorn my walls with are: An old Conestoga wagon that one of my sons made while in school; a picture of several of us dressed in old western costumes that make me smile every time I look at it. Happy times of past. On top of the bookshelves that house many of the books I am constantly using for reference purposes are mementoes from our four years spent in Bisbee, AZ back in the 70’s. These keepsakes aren’t worth much from a monetary standpoint but the memories they bring back are priceless.
Adding to the comical side of me is the latest addition to my collection of wild and crazy stuff, a stuffed “Yoda” that looks over me each day. When I greet him every morning as I come to my desk, I can hear him saying to me:
Okay, time to bring this post to a close but before I do, let me just say that:
Retirement is but another phase of our lives.
Too many people today are always uptight and stressed out. Truth be told, having such a whimsical attitude about my desk area with all the little reminders of the good times we have had these past 80 years is my way of coping and is an excellent way to help me lighten up and thus live in a happier, less-stressed environment.
As I bring this to a close, allow me to share with you one more memento that adorns the wall of my office area. Chances are that some of you reading this might just think that the item I am about to mention is sort of silly for a guy that just turned 80 a short three and a half months ago – but that’s life – to each their own. Right next to the plaque that asks for Patience, is a picture of my mother sitting in her favorite rocking chair. When I look at her and see her looking back at me, it is as though she is watching over me and I can hear her say:
“Not to worry – this too shall pass!”
You all have a magical day – but do take time to smell the roses!
For the past several years, my morning routine has been to wake early, do about 15 minutes of stretching exercises, go to the computer and prepare either what I like to refer to as a “Facebook Quip” which is merely my way of saying something bright and funny so that those who followed my crazy mixed up ways might get a smile or chuckle out of reading it and assist them in preparing for their day.
But for the past several months, such has not been my routine. Why? Because I allowed all the negativity that occurred during 2020 to bring me down. What do I mean?
Enter 2020, namely February and/or March and “Whammo” along comes the dreaded Covid – 19 Virus and subsequent pandemic. Add to this, it was an election year and I am not going to go into all that happened and is still happening surrounding that, but suffice it to say, it has been an election campaign that many of us have never seen before and I do not mind saying, I hope never see again.
Now, I am not one to receive the local newspaper, but unfortunately wanting to keep up with all that was happening, I decided to stay current by accessing Social Media. Wrong thing to do! I am sure that most of you will agree that no matter what network one turns on today, you cannot turn on the news without being blasted with negativity. And if any of you are like me, even after you have had your fill of the, and I will try to be polite here – “CRAP” – seen, there is usually one story or another that tends to linger on even after you either turn the set off or go to another show.
So, what to do, what to do? I have never been a “take charge” type of guy thinking I could change all this. Nor have I ever wanted to be part of the solution. I am a mere mortal, living in this wonderful country of ours just trying my best to make it through another day like most of the rest of the world does – day in and day out. One of my favorite sayings has always been “One day at a Time, One day at a Time!”
For many years now, I have ended many an email and other writings I have written with the following quote:
“Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” —Yoda
For years I have been a fan of reading, writing, and making comments about various quotes I have come across and one of the ones that has always stuck with me is the one Desmond Tutu once said: “There is only one way to eat an elephant, a bite at a time.” In times like these, when everything in life seems daunting, overwhelming, and even impossible, stop for a moment and think. It has been said that even the impossible can be accomplished gradually by taking on just a little at a time.
Another thing I have learned due to all that has happened over these past 9 + months is that we should all stop a moment and count our blessings if we are still able to get up every morning, take nourishment, and go about our day. Why, because looking at life that way will make us realize more that every day should be looked upon as a gift. We are still here. It is like when we first wake and see the sun shining. Yay, a brand-new day!
And when you run into an old friend unexpectedly while out getting your groceries (social distancing of course), think of that too as a gift. They too, woke up this morning and hopefully are experiencing a similar experience.
Is it all going to be sunshine and flowers? NO, it is not! Believe me when I say, we (my wife and I) as well as many others in this world today have endured sorrows throughout these past few months. Such events wrench one’s heart every day but instead of bringing us down, should give us more of a bittersweet appreciation of life.
Both of us are now in our eighth decade of life and even with all that is happening around us, do our best to keep each other upbeat, happy and we face each day with a smile and a “Get Up and Go Attitude” because, well, as has always been said – It beats the alternative!
Didn’t mean for this to drag on like it did, but just wanted to say that even with all that is going on around us and within our own family, I am back and am looking forward to posting weekly here at Lakeland Musings. Stay safe and