Life in the Slow Lane

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By nature, I’m not an advice giver. If you ask for my opinion on a decision, I’ll give it but, for the most part, I’m not going to tell people how to live their lives. Kind of figure people need to find their own paths.

As an aside, my wife is the opposite. Often, if we get into conversations with someone, she’ll start with the advice like she’s got a problem to solve. I cringe a bit on the inside because my natural preference is to just listen and let the person talk and be heard.

Trying to get to today’s theme without rambling too much

I might add “accepting” yourself as well. Or maybe acceptance of who you are is one step towards happiness and inner peace. When I took the retirement webinar, the guy was all about the topic of knowing what kind of activities you like. And I kind of filed it away and it kind of jumped to the front of my mind yesterday.

If you go to any search engine and type in “50 things to do before …”, you’ll get back an assortment of lists from various places supposedly offering you guidance on the things you “must” do by a certain age. As if your eternally happiness relies on completing some kind of a checklist.

The problem is that those checklists are created by someone else. Usually a lazy writer who was coming up on a deadline and just tossed some stuff together that sounded life affirming. And that’s just it. This is someone’s opinion of what you should do. Someone you don’t know. Someone who probably has a different life background and set of experiences than you do. Someone who certainly doesn’t know you. In short, it is the worst possible place to take advice.

Some people want a lot of adventure in their lives. My cousin is kind of like that. They travel a lot and post wonderful pictures. But that doesn’t work for everyone. And it is OK if you aren’t the kind of person who wants to travel to the far corners of the world or take on challenges just to say you did them. Trying to be like someone else isn’t going to make you happy and doing things simply because they show up on someone else’s list is probably the worst way to spend your time.

The same thing goes for any “things you must do” on a particular vacation. We were in Oregon a couple of years ago. Driving on the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area and stopping at various waterfalls was fantastic. But we also spent part of an afternoon at a Farmer’s Market in Astoria which wouldn’t appeal to someone driven by a list of outdoor adventures.

We went back to the State Fair yesterday. There was too much to see (and eat) to do it all in one day. I fed a cow. I know the animals are there primarily for kids but I pumped several quarters into the machine to get pellets which the little calf basically inhaled in a second or two. It was a bit messy and felt a little strange but it was fun for me. We sat and watched a DNR guy talk about raptors and bringing out four injured birds to talk about them. Got some nice photos of him holding a bald eagle. Is it for everyone? No. But it was fun for us.

I just enjoyed walking through the sheep barns and watching the reactions of the sheep. Some would watch you and come up to you as you approached the pen. Others would run away and others kind of ignored you completely. Walked through a barn with draft horses and had the same kind of experience. Stood next to the tallest corn stalk (22 feet) just because it was there.

I guess this has been one of the adjustments to make to retirement. It kind of seems like people assume you should be doing things. You’re retired. Get a camper and drive around the country. Go volunteer and give back. Do something big with the rest of your life. Admittedly, some of this is probably in my own head but it does feel like an expectation at times. And, again, the problem is that these are people projecting their thoughts and desires on to you. But it is OK to do the things that make you happy.

And it is certainly harder when you don’t necessarily walk to the same drum beat that most of the rest of society does. I’m closing in on my third month without a job and I’ve never been bored. And it is not because I’m doing big things. I’m just doing a lot of small things and those experiences are making me happy. I don’t need someone’s list of things I “must” do. Nobody does.

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