Thursday, March 15, 2012

This is the Season, posted by Nancy L. Agneberg

Apparently, it is spring. I have been hearing the sandhill cranes in the morning and actually saw two flying like arrows yesterday. Robins have definitely returned, and crocus and daffodils are appearing. Yesterday,  granddaughter Maren and I went to the Milwaukee Zoo, where it seemed that every young mom was pushing a stroller the size of an RV, eager to introduce her baby or toddler to the sunshine. Maren and I envied the brown bear frolicking in the pool, and we wondered why the polar bear didn't take the plunge, too. True, we could have a blast of winter again, but we have turned the bend into the next season, and any further wintry weather would simply be the acting out of a spoilsport. Therefore, instead of anticipating spring, watching for signs of spring, I better catch up.  Apparently, spring is already here. 
      That's not all that has arrived. This morning I started reading Creative Aging, Rethinking Retirement and Non-Retirement in a Changing World by Margery Zoet Bankson ( Reading this book makes me realize even more that I am not being teased by the thought of retirement nor am I anticipating the arrival of this older stage of my life. I am here. This is the season, the retirement season. 
     Bankson calls this period between the ages of 60 and 75 a "generative period", "a period of possibility," and because we can expect to live longer than previous generations we have the luxury and the responsibility to explore the question, "What is this period for?" Bankson challenges us to find a new call for our later years. Call, as Bankson defines it, is the "inner nudge to wake up and notice our place in the greater scheme of things...a special way of understanding what we are here for, our reason for being." 
     Of course, the trick is to discover the call for this season. Some people enter retirement with a clear direction. They are eager to put into operation their "encore" career. Others have felt stuck in a job and are eager to do something totally different. Others are weary and need a time-out. Others flounder during this time, aware there is something out there, but with no real idea what that might be. Some have so fully identified with pre-retirement life that it is hard to imagine what this new time could possibly offer them. 
     It seems to me that in order to hear a call, one must get quiet. And then when quiet no longer feels too disconcerting or disorienting, it is time to notice. Stephanie Dowrick in Choosing Happiness poses the question, "What does the eagle see?" What does the eagle notice when he sits in the tallest tree in your loop of life and observes you? 
     I started a list of what my eagle notices about me these days: how happy I am when I am writing; how I am less interested in home tending than in the past; how I am exercising less these days than I was a year ago and that has bad consequences for me; how I am reading less, especially fiction, and writing more; how my days are full and good, no matter what; how I am more flexible and resent it less; how shopping is more about necessity than choice or pleasure; how grateful I am for my family and friends; how open I am to what's next, no matter what it turns out to be, but also how I want to decide what's next.  Dowrick suggests that by noticing, by playing the part of the eagle for ourselves, we are deepening our self-awareness without being self-absorbed and therefore, we will know a call when it appears.   
     I washed the front porch floor today and moved the porch furniture back into its spring, summer, fall location. I look forward to having meals on the porch again and using the porch for reading and writing, as well as greeting the neighbors as they stroll by. It's spring and I am retired, and it is time for new growth and new beginnings. 

1 comment:

  1. If you ever questioned the impact your writing has...look no further. I always come away with "gratitude" for the wisdom, insight and vast reading you share with others. This most recent blog, once again, touched a nerve. Maybe it is because we visited our financial guru this week. Unfortunately, he can only do so much with what he is given! Coping with life changes has never been my strength, but I look forward to exploring the resources you have provided.


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