We can go through life trying different things, being different versions of ourselves, working at various jobs in diverse places, or we can stay one course for the duration, just wrinkling and sagging a bit more year to year. I have been, or at times, wanted to be or do all of the above. What seems to me the end though, is I am fairly sure it does not really matter if it is the vagabond lifestyle, or the stay close to our beginnings, where our roots probably hit bedrock a long time ago, choices we make.
I am concluding, as I travel through this journey, that there are actually two essential components to healthful, successful living. I used to believe there were many more important issues to life, but the older I get, the easier it is for me to reduce and cast off things that do not seem to be foundational to my well-being. The quality of my days is being measured by the surety, the certainty of that upon which I have put the weight of these days. Therefore, I have to believe without a doubt in that which I am choosing.
And those two inseparable things that will pretty much dictate just how happy and fulfilled our lives are? The first is where we live. Having moved approximately every two years for a very long time, and lived in sixteen states, I know that people share certain identifiable characteristics with particular regions. I do not begin to understand what draws us to the mountains, the desert, a crowded city, farmland, or open plains. The sea, rainy north or humid south, swamps, lakes, rivers, glaciers or islands; but I do know they all offer what satisfies the soul’s cry to each who chooses to live where they are drawn. And I know that people who are not a match to where they live are the most miserable folk on earth. It has all the appeal of walking through everyday of your life with your shoes on the wrong feet; you can put one foot in front of the other, but it hurts, and it never, never feels right.
The second is with whom we surround ourselves. It is critically important to be with those who love us, support us, are considerate and thoughtful, and want to be around us as much as we want to be around them. Unless these values and actions are present in relationships, we are out of balance and cannot achieve peace and harmony in our or anyone else’s life. The dynamics of kinship are found wherever relationship goals and desires are common; family can certainly have this, and I think should have it, but often friends are the ones who end up providing the connections we, for whatever reason, lack in family. Just because someone is related does not necessarily mean they are a good kinship match. And, someone outside the familial circle can easily fulfill our desire for companionship when no family member cares to try.
So, a good match between place and people can make for a boundless source of comfort and joy. How does one know? It works is how one knows. And for Baby Boomers who are retired, or thinking of making such a move in the not too distant future, I suggest considering seriously these two things: where you want to spend those retirement years, and with whom. And, I suggest one not be afraid to try something new, or perhaps different than the status quo, or what the dream always was.
Almost everything I came across early on regarding retirement pertained to how I should or would spend my mountain of retirement money, my pension whose abundance was endless; all sounding good, with the exception that I did not have, nor would have either. I did not find any articles on how someone who, through unexpected life circumstances, would reach retirement years with very limited income, and just where one lived with those financial constraints. Nope. Everything was geared toward a vastly wealthy population that was chomping at the bit to break free and spend everything they had saved and invested for so long.
I have since learned there are many of us who have reached this phase of life with conditions somewhat altered than how we once were, or how we planned to find ourselves in retirement. And an altered outcome can, as certainly is my case, mean a better outcome. I was offered and accepted the opportunity to live with my family in a place where generosity of spirit as well as goods is the norm for day to day living. Our world is rural, remote, yet not at all inaccessible to anyone who wants to be a part of something homespun and genuine.
It suits us, because we are given the opportunity to care about each other, and the world around us everyday; and there is a lot to be said for people who not only care for those they call kin, be they family or friend, but also for an ecology, an environment that we protect as zealously as those under our roof. Seriously, there is no limit to the effort one will expend to assist, or aid any identified need, here. We even help fish cross the road, and that so succinctly demonstrates the love found in this place I call home.