This I Believe

Patricia - Fort Wayne, Indiana
Entered on June 29, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
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This I Believe

As I turn 60 the conventional wisdom about entering old age could overcome me…get a villa with nothing to take care of, retire and see the world, live near a golf course and chase the little white ball, but none of these appeals to me.

The ads for “retirement living at it’s best” turn me off royally. No villa to independent living to assisted living to nursing home puhleezeeee., I have travelled far and wide and lived abroad for numerous years (extensive European travel, several trips overland to Nepal, China, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, etc etc.) If the urge strikes, a trip appeals, i might still be attracted, but enough of that for now. Chasing a golf ball has never appealed, though i am passionate about other sports. No gym sign-ups, puhleezeee.

No grandchildren or even married children yet so that’s not a consideration.

The vitality i feel coarsing through my veins finds outlets in running, bicycling and working out with my fabulous Australian Sheepdog that thinks she is a border collie. No matter, life is good. As my parents said numerous times while I was growing up, when you have your health, you are rich beyond measure, you can do anything.

Hanging onto a job where one is constantly squeezed, humiliated and put down, in the name of bankruptcy, made to pare back, give up and be beaten, i say, “no, i shall not be defeated.” When colleagues moan and groan and the crab principle is repeated constant times each day, as one depressed and downtrodden spirit after another relays their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual woes. My soul shouts, “no, i will not be dragged down. I will do everything i possibly can to lift my colleague, change the morbid culture siqued on us by the uncaring corporate greed machine and not only live, but thrive and take along as many as i can with me.”

It is an uphill battle, but the Peace Corps in me survives; one person can make a difference and I do and will make a difference. It has taken years to see even a glimmer of hope, but it is there. The worker who reaches out anonymously to cheer another, the one who hears of a need in the community and the work force joins together to help. In some small way, I find satisfaction in the efforts, knowing i’ve done a part, sometimes small, sometimes large, to help my beleaguered fellow citizen on this planet feel good about their efforts, their role in helping another.

If I were brave i would jump in with both feet and fight the terrible wrongs we peons in the workforce endure. Union representation has lost its meaning. Just another empire supported by our mandatory and regular dues. The press cowers when management says, “go away.” No one hears us. The lonely worker internalizes anger, resentment, and the toll is often not visible. Prozac prescriptions abound, psychological and physical effects are bemoaned, but we trudge on. The American worker does not take to the streets like the European. The students of Paris bring the French capital to a grinding halt, while we “make do, get by somehow” and lose faith in the system. Souls resigned.

My spirit cries out for justice, demands fulfillment in outlets hithertofore unexplored. I am ready for new endeavors and new beginnings. Running everyday reminds me of the joys of having a fit body, and of the unfulfilled youthful athletic ambitions, squelched by the then social norms of “boys do sports – girls learn to cook and take care of a home.” What great strides in the last 4 or 5 decades (unappreciated many women today).

I tend a garden and i see life blooming and there seems no end to the possibilities. I visit elderly relatives and their spirits are kindled with the joy of lively discussion, a spontaneous meal, a creative activity. My coworker is down, I listen. There is no magic pill to lift them up, but listening seems to help. One person, yes, what a difference one person can make.

I am 60, society says to slow down, seek this retirement option or that. The same society that held women to be kitchen bound and men to be the sports devotees. No, I choose a road of my own making. I choose not to settle for something, I choose to pursue new endeavors, push the envelope, to be the best i can possibly be.

For this i thank God, of course, for good health and innumerable blessings. And my husband, my very supportive husband. “Sure, go ahead, try it.” Not a negative word, as he scrounges in the fridge for a quick fix meal for himself. And my grown kids, “yeah Mom, way to go, you’re a powerhouse.”

Is it scary. Sometimes. The road less travelled on might be full of pitfalls, failures and unknowns. My soul yearns to expand, explore, help and be helped, seek and find. There will be much opposition, “she’s a nutball,” “she’s doomed,” “what a disaster,” etc. but the naysayers do not live in my skin. They do not realize the joy of picking up and going on even when the road slopes down. I am excited, like a youth on a crusade. I am about to launch a new adventure. Age is irrelevant when your soul seeks to not just live, but thrive.

i see a future where i live and thrive.