People sometimes say to me that they feel as though they are waiting for something in their life. What they are waiting for is unknown.
Sometimes I hear someone say that they feel like they are living someone else’s life or just marking time.
It can feel like waiting for real life to begin. Or like living on the surface.
Usually, the person feels lucky to have a comfortable life and is a bit embarrassed to be thought to be complaining.
We know that it is important to feel purposeful in life. Having a sense of purpose makes life feel meaningful and helps us to be engaged rather than drifting.
Unfortunately, life does not always provide us with purpose and we have to go out and find it. This seems a trifle artificial and can also make us wonder why we would seek it out.
Engagement with something you believe in nearly always comes at a cost … time, money, emotion. It is a gamble, but the hope is that the cost is outweighed by the benefit.
It seems to me that once we reach retirement age we are well placed to live boldly.
Part of that living boldly can be to fight for what we believe in, perhaps on an issue that we think might make the world a better place. Fight might be too strong a word – try advocate, agitate, speak out, stand up …
I recall a Boyer Lecture given by Shirley Hazzard in 1984. Part of her lecture contained a very simple message, and I was still young enough to be impressed by it. Apologies to Ms Hazzard if I am misquoting her (it was a long time ago).
Effectively it was a call to action. She said that we waste a great deal of energy sharing our gripes about the world over dinner or coffee, yet we do nothing about those gripes. I hear so many conversations expressing disappointment, dissatisfaction, disbelief at a myriad of different issues at large in our world.
Surely in retirement we can act. Recently I met with a group on retired teachers. They spoke with deep concern about changes in the education system.
I pointed out that as they no longer have to worry about their jobs they could band together to act for change. This idea was not warmly met.
There are so many issues of concern that it can seem overwhelming. Where does one start? Perhaps it is a process of choosing just one and diving into it. Mine is billboards.
I know, who cares? I do. Why are we subjected to visual pollution?
Don’t wait for purpose to find you.
What will you spend your energy on? Join others, create your own group or act alone.
Unfettered by work, able to speak freely without impacting employment, elders can be a powerful voice in any community. Retirement is a wonderful opportunity to live fully and boldly.
Judy Rafferty is the author of Retirement Your Way, A Practical Guide to Knowing What You Want and How to Get It, at all good bookshops and online.