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LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST vs. HANGING ON

March 28, 2013

Eventually, I guess, we all reach that point where we not only acknowledge we’re aging, but also make a conscious decision of what that life will be like.

I see it all around me-first and foremost in siblings….an oldest brother chose a life of recluse enjoying nature in Alaska; the next in line chose to reinvent himself after “retirement” as he emerged from serving community to serving as a shopkeeper and managed to create a whole new life for himself that has served him well for twenty years.  Another, disliking his “career” job seems less inclined to re-invent, but to enjoy what he worked for; despite continuing health issues.

One sister-the mom –became the snowbird far too early in life and the perils of constant traveling and indulgences along the way combined with a predisposition or perhaps bad luck, is caught in the scary world of dementia.  A younger sister, successful in her career, retired early and like our Grandma Bishop, lives life to the fullest in her world of nature.

And then there’s me-retired from a successful corporate career in my late 40s; started a new business focusing on events, and now that I’ve made great new friends, won lots of recognition through awards and press, and have been part of a team that delivered work that has become the case study for MPI Research for “Meeting Design in the Twenty-first Century”, my thoughts are turning to what’s next.  I have seen more years in my sixties than are left to unfold, so I keep trying to figure out “what I want to be when I grow up”…because I think everyone deserves at least three careers.

Six of us; all pretty different but generally we’re tolerant and supportive of one another because we are family.

Which led to the question…..

Is it the same with friends?  I’ve thought about this a lot over the past ten years…as school friends, early career friends and friends made along my life’s pathway have come and gone, re-emerged, or faded away.

I’ve thought about it because there is a trend, I think.  Some friendships pick up without a missed beat; some continue on because “it’s always been”; and some are definitely a nice experience but are they worth the effort to keep going forward?  Sometimes-not so much.

Once I thought that phenomenon was simply a natural progression influenced by circumstances in each person’s life…and sometimes, the many shared interests two people have.  Along the way, I’ve done some deliberate culling….if I merely “tolerated” someone first time around, I no longer feel obligated by long timeframes of acquaintance to continue a relationship where what is shared was simply criticism. Yet at the same time, old friendships not well-tended faded away – only to re-emerge in a time of need, to grow again, built on strengths not weaknesses.  Or like a recent reunion of the IBC team, we come together, and in the moment, ARE those people we once were 25 years ago.

I’ve never been big on status quo; I’ve never been big on preserving the way it’s always been or always been done; I’ve never had much patience for those who sacrifice life’s experiences simply to ensure a few more months or years of being here on earth.  I hope, instead, I am more like my mother – who at 75 years old was game for white water rafting….but drew the line at horseback riding in the mountains!

In the last year or so, I have thought a lot about this and have come to the conclusion that the world is made up of those that do indeed “live life to the fullest” whatever or for how long that might be; and those that live life cautiously and safely-whose goal seems to be to extend time on earth as long as possible…no matter the quality.  Or, is that in itself the issue – what is, indeed, quality of life?

Perhaps the real question to contemplate is why am I surprised that I am impatient – even with old friends whose focus today is “hanging on”?

 

 

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