“as little as possible!”
… is my evasive answer to the pervasive question: “what will you do in your retirement?”. It enables me to avoid telling all my plans to all and sundry, but it is not at all false.
My greatest hope for retirement is to have time for contemplation. I have never had so little time for reading and reflection in my life as during the 16 years that I have been a teacher. Our society is a fast moving, growing, successful organism, but the bane of our lives is that the pace of life often leaves us spending most our time getting ready for tomorrow whilst failing to appreciate today.
Pico Iyer says in his book The Art of Stillness, A TED Original:
"In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow.
In an age of distraction, nothing could feel more luxurious than paying attention.
In an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.”
There is nothing wrong with a busy, high achieving life, provided it is a life and not just a fast moving sequence of events over which we have lost control. But, just as cars need servicing, houses need repairing or redecorating and computers need updating, so too people need time and space to be restored. The latest experience has taken the place of meaning; fleeting pleasures replace understanding; doing replaces thinking and busyness dominates contemplation. This is not how humans should live, skating on the surface of life without a care for either the thinness of the ice nor the depth of the waters beneath.
The purpose of this blog has been to try to stimulate a little thought about what is good for us rather than simply allowing things to happen. And this is my last blog post. I shall move on to spend a little more time contemplating the nature and meaning of life. Does that sound too deep? To me it seems that we have been too easily satisfied with skimming off the surface. A little depth of thought about the meaning of life would do us all good.
If I may misquote the words of one of my favourite fictional characters: Professor Bernardo de la Paz in Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress: “understanding is an art that I pursue rather than a goal I expect to achieve. Nor is this a source of dismay; a lost cause can be as spiritually satisfying as a victory”.
I have spent my life seeking understanding; I have not achieved it. Yet the search has been fruitful for it keeps me sane, it keeps me well because life is about more than just living.
Reverend Hewitt, Well-Being Coach