Today, bayonet fixed, I shall attack life altering changes, seminal event's, and in particular, Retirement. That, because yesterday I had the joy and privilege of spending considerable quality time at my local Social Security Administration office. That opportunity allowed me to reflect on that journey had brought me there. And while I don't intend to use this blog for my life story; I would like to hit some high points that I think relevant.
Important events in our lives change in value, according to our ages. And while early memories may be a little fuzzy (to someone who has just left the Social Security office), I would guess that some of my first life changing moments had to do with my growth and development. A little later on, I'm sure, it was birthdays and holidays-because of the gifts, of course. But the first one I can truly remember was my 16th birthday when all I really wanted was my driver’s license. Then I suppose, the first kiss, graduation, moving away from home, turning 21, and my first job. For some people, perhaps it was marriage and the birth of their children which changed their lives; for me it was the loss of my parents.
In hindsight, after that my life just seemed to pick up, speed-faster and faster until I was unceremoniously slammed into a door that halted the forward movement. There was a note on the door, which read, in part-"your decision about what you want to be when you grow up has been made. You are a grown-up (and have been for many, many years), and now you must decide how you want to spend the remaining third of your life."
Well, that was certainly a rude awakening. I had been flung, wide awake and fully dressed, off of the hamster wheel. No more scurrying. No more, get up-get dressed-go to work-come home-do chores-go to bed-get up and do it again. Huh. That might be considered a life altering change. But it got my attention, and I began to look at where I had been. The changes that I noticed first were physical. When I look in the mirror, I see things that I didn't see before; I see a little more puffiness around my eyes, deeper laugh lines and crows feet. My skin is more fragile and has very fine lines and wrinkles that make it hang a little more. Gravity is pulling at my eyes, my nose and my cheeks. My eyes are not quite as bright as they used to be, my brows are thinner, and little hairs grow on my chin. My waist is bigger in my ass is bigger-but my feet seem smaller. When I awake each morning; I must wait patiently for different parts of my body to wake up and move. Each day I noticed the little stiffness that wasn't there the day before; my fingers don't flex as easily without pain; my knees and hips hurt; my back has actually developed a malady-degenerative disc disease.
In my heart, I'm 16 again, or 20 or even 30. In my mind- I am ageless. I have wonderful memories, and many of them. I have wisdom that I never expected to have. I have gratitude that I am healthy, alert, alive and well. "We'll of course, you are"-you might say, "62 is not that old". True, but it is the next stage. And I would be foolish to ignore it. This stage should be enjoyed and celebrated as much, if not more, than any other because it is the one I have been working for. This is the stage where all of the accumulated life lessons come together and create peace, opportunity, joy, and most of all-adventure/new horizons/new challenges.
The people that I saw at the Social Security office were, in general, younger than I; which led me to wonder-why are they were there? Were they applying to get a Social Security card? Or were they there because of disabilities? They were easily 100+ people there-at one office, in one city, in one State. Clearly, there is a need for Social Security (that is a topic for another day). I left the office with assurances that I would soon be receiving a check for money that I had started earning with my first job selling popcorn in a movie theater. (That was important,too, because I couldn't eat popcorn for 10 years.)