Life Changes/Ties And Obligations

changes in life7-22-20127-44-46AM

It is more than passing strange to me to think how quickly my life has zipped on by, now that I am retired and can catch my breath and look back on it objectively…Oh, i am still in good health and have no fatal diseases, but still, nobody lives forever…This is a true fact, in 100 years we will all be dead, yet we each cling desperately to the illusion that it can’t really happen to us, can it? Oh yes, it can, and it will…sigh…It is so true what they say, that youth is wasted on the young…

When you are young, the world is an open book that stretches out to infinity, full of opportunity and promise, vistas to see, dreams to live out and fantasies to realize and you feel strong and confident that you will always feel this way, always be strong, invincible, immortal…. There are no doubts, no questions, no problems that you cannot surmount, no obstacles that you cannot overcome, and your truly believe that your achievements will only be limited by the scope of your imagination and the ambitions that you harbor….Nothing can withstand your youthful strength and vitality, and the world is truly your oyster, ready to be savored to the fullest…

Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who defies the odds in this jungle of life on earth, one of those who manages to keep one step ahead of the pack, one of the fortunate few who is able to dot all the “i’s” and cross all the “t’s”…. Maybe you are lucky enough to have well placed connections that ease you into the right job at the right time, advise you when to get in and out of the stock market at the most advantageous moment, who tip you off ahead of time about any looming disasters….

Maybe you really are one of the fortunate ones who happens to always be in the right place at the right time, but this is almost always more a matter of luck and connections than skill…If this is you, retirement is indeed the golden years, the icing on the cake, the reward for a life well spent and time and skills and efforts invested wisely….Congratulations, you have won the Super Lotto of life….

But for the vast majority of us, this is not the way it goes down at all…Slowly but surely, for most of us, reality sets in…Maybe it’s an unexpected pregnancy that short circuits that European vacation or derails your dream job search in lieu of any job that will pay the bills….Or a car accident that can be disastrous in so many different ways, financially and or physically….. If you are a soldier the searing horrors and physical wounds of war mark you indelibly, and even if you remain physically unscathed there can be psychological scars that last a lifetime….

Or perhaps a genetic health condition that you never realized you had, a job lost through no fault of your own because the corporation went bankrupt, maybe there was a dot.com bust, a tech venture bubble pops…Poof! Or maybe your house goes underwater financially because of government and banking mismanagement or even outright fraud, your promised pension disappears into thin air, or any of a myriad of job opportunities missed that you can’t get back, because you are too caught up in dealing with the day to day crises that seem to come at you in waves out of nowhere….

Soon enough most of us all end up with ties and obligations, familial and financial, rent or house payments to make, car payments, insurance, registration, smog checks, maintenance issues on practically everything, appliances that break down and constantly need to be repaired or replaced, etc, etc…….. The list is endless, there are always more and more and more bills to pay, it seems there is always more money going out than coming in, so you dip deeply into the abyss of delayed gratification by plunging into the world of credit cards, and before you know it you are spinning your wheels, just trying to break even, to keep your head over the financial waves…

Living from paycheck to paycheck, if you have kids there are always unexpected illnesses, or school costs that need to be paid for, your insurance never quite seems to stretch out enough to cover all the costs, and the deductibles are always killers…..All this financial strain inevitably puts a crimp into your personal relationships, and if you are married the dream of living happily ever after is dashed on the rocks of reality, the financial hassles make the romance the first to go…

So you turn to other outlets, maybe have an affair to spice up your suddenly dead and dormant love life, or maybe you seek solace in alcohol or drugs or gambling, all these temporary fixes are like a house of cards, so easily collapsed….The alcohol, drugs and gambling just plunge you deeper and deeper into debt, and the downward spiral accelerates at breath taking speed…

If you are lucky, you snap out of your funk, clean up your act just in time…You finally achieve that “moment of clarity” when you realize that YOU have to take charge of your own life….This realization usually comes with age, and it is a maturation point…Things suddenly start breaking your way instead of “breaking bad” all the time….

You achieve some semblance of stability in your work life, you slowly pay off all the debts you have somehow accumulated over your lifetime, everything seems to slow down and you have, if not the pleasure of success, at least the relief of not having succumbed to failure….The knowledge and relief that somehow you have managed to have beaten the odds, of being a survivor in life, makes you so unlike so many of your former friends and neighbors who continue their downward spiral…..

And again Congratulations!….Now you too are a survivor, and all the whirling, swirling decades of gloom and despair and frustration have cast you too up on the beach of retirement, and now you have the time, if not the resources to look back on it all objectively….Life is still very much like a book, but now you realize with a much more immediate, pressing sense of urgency, that you are embarking on the last few chapters, maybe even the last few pages, of your own personal book of life…

A wise man once said that it is never too late, and while there is life, there is hope…Truer words were never spoken…There is no way to go back and undo the mistakes you may have made made, but you can still move forward and make the best of whatever time you do have left…You need to absorb the old maxim fully, and truly just “live life one day at a time”…And never underestimate the power of positive thinking and it’s ability to manifest and make real your hopes and dreams…

That is what i am trying to do now, and if everything did not turn out exactly like I imagined when I was young, it could always have been worse, and in my heart of hearts, I truly believe that it can still get better…As R.E.M. once bewailed in their great song “It’s the End of the World As We Know It,” it may be true, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying….After all, paradoxically, change is the only constant in life, and hope springs eternal….

The beat goes on…