Giving up

Yes, it has been hard to settle back down to inauguration2today just being another ordinary day.  But there’s nothing ordinary about it.  There has been a shift;  in many ways it felt like waking up into a different world this morning.  Thank you for that to everyone who voted for and worked for Obama.   Now if only we can meet his expectations and begin to come together as communities again … well … what can I say.  What an incredible time to be retiring; what good fortune to be in a position where I actually do have the time you make a contribution “in kind”. 

giving-upI just finished reading an article by Richard A. Smith in the Huffington Post;  it’s called The Art of Giving Up and starts with these words:  “It is a simple but cruel irony of life that as soon as you think you have things figured out, the rules change.”  That is sooooooo true when it comes to retirement.  Everything I’d figured out about how to manage my life while I was working no longer applies.  Okay, that’s an exaggeration … coming from the level of frustration I’m still feeling as I work my way – with delight too – through this.  Much of his argument is based on his belief that, as he puts it:  “We enter the world and are quickly presented with a simple rule of success – More! Acquire more words. More food. More toys. Take more classes. Earn more degrees. Once we enter the working world, the room looks different, but the objective remains the same. Acquire knowledge. Gain experiences. Get better. Take on more. AND MORE! ”  This is one of the things I’ve been trying to turn around, and have written about several times.

I’ve spent my life taking on more.  Maybe the high point of this almost obsessive drive was when I was working full time, teaching an evening course,  raising three children on my own, busy as president of an egalitarian synagogue, and completing a Ph.D.  That was definitely a MORE period!  I’d have more money today if I had $100 for every time somebody who loves me has said to me:  “Sylvia, you’re doing too much!”.  Although I always knew these words came from kindness (okay, so sometimes I didn’t really believe that …) I also knew that I had no idea how to do what they were suggesting.

Smith goes on in his article to say that: “But then along the way a funny thing happens, a subtle but fundamental shift that far too few ever notice. The rules of success change. In fact, they make a u-turn. Succeeding in the second phase of life becomes about giving up. Doing less. It is about focusing on what you were view-from-the-plane-window-over-patagonia3meant to be doing, leveraging your greatest strengths and passions, and letting everything else fall to the side. ”  Now that’s something I can really get behind.   Letting what isn’t important to me fall to the side while I focus on my strengths and passions.  Maybe this is the next lesson for me to remember:  Carefully choose what you want to leave behind and what you want to keep – based on passions and personal goals; make sure what’s kept is manageable.”

Isn’t it wonderful when, once in a while, we read our thoughts in somebody else’s words.  In this case, words that have been published which means they must have (okay, might have) some credibility.

So, how to decide what to let go.  Evidently I’ve already given up an inch.  What should I let go next?  Any advice?

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One response to “Giving up

  1. Interesting article by Richard Smith and so, so true for most of us. It is a rare individual who can get above and beyond the notion of “more”. I love the line about success in the second phase of life being the ability to focus on what you are meant to be doing. Such a simple concept. Took me almost all of my 65 years to realize it – even more simple to do it!

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