One of the things that’s different about being retired – different from being at work all day – is that there was nothing between me and a full day of attention to CNN last week as the horror in Mumbai unfolded. There were other things I was doing on Friday; I was preparing a Shabbat dinner for 8, paying bills, writing. In the background, through the whole day, was the drone of on-location, first-hand details from reporters who were standing outside the buildings in which nightmares were unfolding. As hour after hour of bad news swept across my kitchen, more details about the actual people who were being terrorized were being broadcast. The day quickly became filled with sadness and remembrances of young and old who were being murdered by terrorists as we watched in helpless silence. All we are left with, all we can do, is remember the victims and their families and friends in our prayers. I heard repeated accounts of the death of a father and daughter – Alan and Naomi Sherr, who were travelling with a group called the Synchronicity Foundation who were in Mumbai participating in a spiritual program. My tasks of the day were punctuated with forays to my laptop – sometimes to check recipes but mostly to follow up on things I heard that caught my attention. Alan Sherr was described by his friends as a man who had “committed most of his adult life to meditation, spirituality and conscious living“. I was really glad to find that there was a site you could go to and, as their website says, “express your love and pay tribute to them.” This was my tribute to them:
As I heard about your husband and daughter I was struck by hearing that he was described as someone with a sense of commitment to seeking the consciousness to know how to live in harmony and peace. At that moment in time I was struggling with how to redefine myself as I’ve just retired and see this as such an opportunity to be the person I am. Hearing about them was a serious reminder that I want to live a more conscious, spiritual and meditative life. On this journey I will remember them.
These two things going on in my mind at the same time – wanting to find the way to go down the path I want to be on (yes, that’s fairly ambiguous at this point) & hearing about a man who had made the choice to live consciously … well, it was one of those times that seems to step outside of the unfolding of time and just hang quietly and gently in the air. Synchronicity?
Even in the enormous sadness of the day, as I prepared a Shabbat feast for David, my mother, Ellen, and some wonderful friends, I felt a sense of clarity and direction that I haven’t felt since the day I retired.
I have really started feeling that retirement is such an amazing opportunity to actually become – in your living – who you want to be in your life. This reminder that I want to be going towards a more conscious path led me to another epiphanous moment; this journey to the ends of the earth that David and I are about to embark on (more about that on Thursday) is a step along that path for me.
In preparation for our travels I had ordered the book Where The Earth Ends by John Harrison. Taking a short break at one point in the afternoon I decided to begin reading it. I read the first paragraph three times … in a row. It was so beautifully written and so intriguing. I called David to tell him about it and we decided that rather than my continuing to read it, I’d set it aside and we’d begin reading chapters of it to each other that night. We’ve done that with quite a few books in the past and it’s one of our real shared joys. (Okay, so at some level maybe we’re both making up for childhoods that were bereft of being read to; nonetheless, it is something we really like doing together.)
Since David’s enthusiasm about our upcoming journey seems to focus on the steak we’ll eat in Argentina I’ve had moments of wondering whether or not we’re planning the same trip. The events of the past few days have been a reminder to me of how important it is to cherish the blessings we have in life and for me David is definitely one of those blessings. We’re very different people but it does seem that we’re on this trajectory of change together, with each of us learning how to support the speed at which the other wants to travel this path.
Retirement. The Visual Thesaurus defines “retire” as both to retreat and to strike out. I think I’d like to do a little of both.
P.S. Did I tell you that my first pension cheque arrived a few days ago? That seemed like a watershed event for me, making this all much more real. Now I’m just waiting to get my drug/dental benefits card and I’ll truly have passed over into this new realm of living.