I get rattled when new information appears in my life about what the rest of my years are going to look like. Call me naive, but I thought I’d reach a certain age (not sure what age, exactly) and my life would be “set.” I’d know what and with whom I identify and what I hold dear. Not happening! This unsettledness of not knowing keeps me on my toes!
I’ve quit asking: Who am I? What will I do with my life? Who loves me? Who will marry me? Where should I live? What should I do? With a little luck and a lot of hard work, most of us have a career, a partner or some peace without one, a vocation, a meaning, a good reason to bound out of bed every morning, and a place to return to at night. Aside from the momentary snafus, we have found our way home.
If we are blessed with health and time, deeper questions may arise within us. In addition to, “How can I make a contribution during the latter part of my life?” I’m curious about “How can I live so that, after passing out of this physical world, I continue to be a blessing to my family, spiritual home, and the world as a whole?”
Three Major Questions
Specifically, I’ve been asking myself three questions lately:
~What is the purpose of the rest of my life?
Not surprisingly, the purpose is much different today than when I retired ten years ago. Before I retired I thought I’d be hanging out and goofing off. What I found is that not doing much leaves me feeling empty, so I write, blog, connect, and continue to get into trouble.
~Am I leaving a legacy?
I didn’t care less ten years ago if I left anything of my existence behind. I had no children, so what did it matter? But over time, I’ve begun to think of my writing as a way to leave something of myself in the wake of my existence.
~How will family and friendships factor into my later years?
My extended family of relatives and friends have always been an extremely important part of my life. Those closest to me can be counted on to support, believe in and fully accept me, even when I mess up big time … without judgement. These are the people who will gently remind me I need to apologize, or I’m trying too hard, or I need to chill. I anticipate the importance of these relationships increasing as I age. Connections take time and effort o keep fresh. If left to languish, our closeness and fellowship can flounder a bit, and we can lose the special qualities that brought us together in the first place.
Revisiting these questions brings me comfort as I age and puts me in a better position should some crisis befall me, like the death of a spouse or loss of mobility or livelihood. I’m more prepared because I’ve thought about the possible answers.
While we eventually have to answer these questions on our own, talking them over with others of like minds can be valuable. Creating a strong network of support never hurts, and such conversations lay the foundation. I’m interested in hearing whether others are facing big questions too, and how their answers are evolving.
When I wonder about purpose I return to sitting in emptiness. who am I if I don’t try to be someone/something that has to last or make an impression. I am deeply motivated to make a difference but I wonder who or what this comes from. what if my life simply is what it is.
Such a thoughtful and powerful response to this blog, Ruth. Thank you always for your insight and participation in learning throughout our ages.