Retirement’s Opportunities and Puzzles

Aug 3rd, 2010 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

How long you have been retired really makes no difference.  The truth is that, in this stage of life we are met with a continuing evolution.  Not unlike growing up, life past retirement continues to offer the necessity for adjustment.  From childhood to adolescence, we were met with a continuing series of changes and unexpected adjustments. From adolescence to adulthood, it continued to do so.  From early to middle, and so on.  That is way our life’s clock works.  And retiement is no different.  It comes up with some dramatic adaptations.  Not always prepared to deal with them, they show up nonetheless.  It is, not unlike a winding clock, necessary to keep up with the winding and rewinding to keep it going. 

Much of retirement, particularly in its earlier stages, is filled with opportunities.  Those opportunites run the gamut from leisurely exercises and travel to new discoveries of what you can do and be.  Energy is good, time is plentiful, hopefully resources are adequate.  The journey called retirement invitingly beckons you.  There is no limit to your options, or so it would seem.  There is no discouragement to your explorations, or so it would feel.  There is no interruption to your taking advantage of your time and your choices, or so it appears.  So choices and plans and opportunities are met with enthusiasm.  They are based upon good, solid, thoughtful and intentional planning.  What will we do next?  Where will next year’s voyage take us?  And so goes the merry go round of retirement. It is a gift, earned by hard work and solid planning and judicious thoughtfulness.  The kids are reared, the mortgage is met, our prescription of rose colored glasses keeps things looking, well, rosy! 

And then one day, the opportunities seem to become puzzles, some fun, others seem to be harder to solve.  Laid out on the dining table are all the pieces, but somehow they aren’t going together as easily as earlier they did. How is it that right there in the middle of an opportunity, a puzzle is introduced?  How is it when things were going so swimmingly, someone seemed to pull the plug in the pool?  How is it that retirement, which had been like those idyllic times during adolescence and early adulthood, shifted to more puzzles than the opportunities we seemed to be enjoying?  

And the puzzles take on all kinds of new and varying dimensions.  Some are even 3D.  Some involve things completely and purely beyond one’s control.  Inflation, a downturn in the stock market, a loss of what was  thought to be a well protected nest egg, maybe even some threatening and anxiety producing health issues.  Puzzles.  Complexities.  Interruptions.  One discovers that this is the kind of thing that happens when you are just going on about living life in retirement.  Uh oh!  Why couldn’t it have been like it was?  Why did this have to happen?  Why did we switch from enjoying opportunities to solving puzzles? How can we put the pieces of the puzzle back in the box and find something else to do, less troublesome, more enjoyable?  It has been said that life is what happens when we experience interruptions.

And then we discover that puzzles are as much of retirement as opportunties.  The opportunites last as long as there is a predictable normalcy.  The opportunites seem to be a part of a permanent fixture, until, suddenly, often without warning something goes haywire.  An issue, ranging from health to money or both, is introduced.  Opportunties need to be reconsidered.  Plans changed.  Appointments made.  The exclamation comes forth:  ‘but this wasn’t expected.”  That is the nature of puzzles.  And, the irony is that the puzzle can get even more complex, convoluted, confusing.  When it does, one is pushed to call upon the resilient strength of courage, willingness to stand firm, readiness to take on whatever may be next. Puzzles aren’t always dead ends, lacking in all the pieces, a trick to keep you from continuing to live out a productive and meaningfully filled life.  They are there to exact from us our ability to manage whatever components they present, whatever tricks they might play.  

Life is so full of both opportunties and puzzles that turning puzzles into opportunties may be the biggest challenge we ever meet and find ourselves needing to take on.  Puzzles need not always be a threatening surprise, but an offer to use your own strength and gathered wisdom to solve whatever it offers.  Deciding that life can be as full and rich and fulfilling as your capablilities will allow it to be means solving those puzzles which come along  and getting  on with it.  Begin now finding ways and means to solve and box up the puzzles.  Begin now to see within the puzzles new opportunities.



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