I’m reflecting this morning on the words to say for a person at their funeral who died last week. She was just a few years older than me. Is this how many years I have left? Or will I live to be 90, as my parents have done?
I was born in a year that ends in 5. I was married 20 years later. I remember thinking how far away the year 2020 would be…the year I would turn 65. Until they changed the system, next year was going to be the year I retired.
It doesn’t matter if you are my age or not. You may be having some of the same feelings. Whether you are starting your last year in school, gearing up for a new career or feeling the passion slip a little on the career you have chosen, you may also be asking yourself, “What’s next for me?”
Our culture encourages us not to think much about what we are doing. We fill our time with activities. We rush from one thing to the next. We schedule a day full of events and leave little time for reflection.
In ancient times, people took a day each week to rest. No travel, no work; nothing larger than family for a day. Except for some time to reflect on the Creator who also rested on the 7th day of the week, nothing was on the calendar. We don’t do this anymore, much to our own demise.
My dreams have been invading my thoughts lately. I’ve been asking myself about when to retire or even whether to retire. So far, my health is good, my energy is strong, and my resources are adequate. If these are the last days of my career, what did I want to do that I haven’t done? I can’t envision myself being inactive. I expect that work will be part of my life whether there is an employer or paycheck involved or not.
The one thing that tugs at my heartstrings is the longing to leave a significant contribution to the world through a book that I have written. I’ve written a published work every Friday for 14 years. My goal of giving fathers the tools that I found unavailable when I needed them over 25 years ago has been largely accomplished. As I have reflected weekly on events and research, my writings have moved more to parenting in general and occasionally to the relationships that feed our parenting skills. Is that enough or is there something else in me that calls for expression?
I’ll be spending more time in reflection. A personal retreat seems in order. I need time to feel my own emotions, hear my own thoughts and put these pieces of my life together in a different puzzle. What if I did something different? What one thing could I change? What contribution have all the experiences of my life uniquely prepared me to make?
I want to invite you on my journey. If you know me, share your thoughts with me. If you know yourself, share yourself. Whatever is next for you could intersect with what is next for me. Remember that Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t publish her first book until she was my age. Nelson Mandella was elected President of South Africa at age 75. Grandma Moses began her prolific painting career without any training in Art after a lifetime of farming. Beginning at age 76 she turned out more than a thousand paintings before being eulogized by President John F. Kennedy at age 101. As long as there is time, there is great opportunity.
So, what’s next?