This richness of aging

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Dispatches foam the 148 by Fred Ryan

As I drive the 148, and no longer every day, there’s finally time to
consider the opportunities of retirement. I’m

Dispatches foam the 148 by Fred Ryan

As I drive the 148, and no longer every day, there’s finally time to
consider the opportunities of retirement. I’m
mumbling my way there, surrounded by plenty of advice for anyone slowing their career. That’s my plan, exit from this career, but continue on. Re-tire: putting on new tires for a new highway. I’ve not the personality for golfing, or a cruise in the winter. A new highway.
My first consideration, inevitably, is the value of living here in the Pontiac
as we age. The cleanliness of the air and water, its beauty, and the friendliness of the people would be tough to find anywhere else, especially in a city. The quiet, the lack of
distraction, the services we seniors depend on – all this is here. People are not numbers.
Most retirees pull out their bucket lists, all the things we’ve put aside for our careers and families. Travel, hobbies and
passions, even fishing, even a daily nap, college courses, new skills, involvement with community groups, expeditions . . . bucket lists are long.
Retirement is more than switching traffic lanes, doing other things, but still doing, doing, doing . . . retirement offers time to look around, to contemplate where we’ve come from and where we’re heading. 
Besides the benefits of living in the Pontiac, aging opens us to the process of gaining confidence (or not!) in our hunches. This is important. Our hunches are a connection with our inner self—all we have experienced, learned, observed. Hunches can be a deep form of guidance, beyond life’s usual clichés and maxims.
Similarly, retirement seems the time to pay attention to the old notion of our motivations. Are we “inner directed” or “outer directed”? It’s not only a question of keeping busy, as we are often advised to do, but of being busy on our own terms (the “inner”) and not only in response to others and their expectations. To reach some fulfilment we must be guided by our own needs and ambitions. We have to sharpen this skill to recognize the source of our motivation in all that we do. As we see around us, most
people are too busy to wonder why they are doing what they do.
Retirement also makes clear the importance of creativity in one’s life. This is self-cultivation and growth, and creativity – the arts, music,
hobbies – is our best tool for accessing the unconscious part of ourselves and our lives. Our
fulfilment begins here.
Aging brings us face to face with the finitude of our existence. Not only that we do have an end, but that death itself is unsubstantial. When we die, we’re dead, not
half-awake and looking around; being dead we can’t experience a thing, including death. Why
fear what we can never
experience?
Religion may grow in importance with age, but I see growing a more native sense of religion: respect for the world and for others. Respect is like praying, but not directed elsewhere. Do no harm and cause no pain, that’s real religion! We see with age that all life is part
of the sacred; the secular and the mundane are most sacred.
 Lastly, nearing home on the 148, we retirees are ready to create
memory. That’s our
legacy – not a building or a business, nothing
concrete, but the ephemeral, where it counts, in the minds and hearts of our kids and grandkids.   
And in two days, this 148 again, all these thoughts again, plus a
little more. This is the richness of aging.