“Don’t Retire…Just Rewire”
A number of converging incidents in life recently encouraged me to examine stages of life transition, purpose, and quality of life related to levels of preoccupation with ageing. This awareness began after listening to a magnetic life coach by the name of Craig Marshall deliver a talk entitled “Don’t Retire, Just Rewire.”
At 23-years-old Craig became a yoga monk with the Self-Realization Fellowship. For the next 35 years he took vows of loyalty, obedience, chastity and simplicity and lived a life of meditation and service. Now his life has transitioned beyond the ashram. Craig has moved into a role where he assists others with their own self-discovery. Craig’s message in his talk was simple. The exploration and personal discovery process does not end at what we define as retirement. The act of retirement is commonly defined as the time of life after children; societal success and youthful adventure where one steps down from career, and releases a number of responsibilities from life. Even though there are a number of actions related to slowing down and removing oneself from responsibility, there should remain an active introspection similar to the questions asked earlier in life. Some of these purposeful questions are:
1. What is your personal life purpose?
2. What is your deepest belief?
3. What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
4. What is your worst habit?
After asking these questions of myself, the answers aligned in perfect synchronicity to a hiking trip to Portugal that was the advent of a 10 day adventure. During 10 days hiking through medieval villages in an ancient, remote area, I connected with the faces of those who resided for a lifetime in these historical villages. Their eyes uncovered the soul of their land and the openness in their hearts. I decided to learn the Portuguese word for “you are beautiful” which is “Voce`e Bonita.” When I connected with local villagers who called out to me with their eyes, I decided to express my appreciation for them using this phrase. On more than one occasion, after expressing my sentiment, the response back (according to my Portuguese guide who translated for me) was a response from the villager stating they were “old.” At this point, I insisted my guide tell them that being old is precisely the reason they hold so much beauty. I took countless pictures of each and every one of these individuals and their faces are just as beautiful as the pictures I have of Portugal’s majestic countryside.
There is a stigma we all hold onto to some degree related to age, retirement and the later chapters of our life. We often attribute aging to decreased amounts of beauty and quality of life. Just the word retirement can have the connotation of retreating and withdrawing, which is far from what this stage of life should offer. After this experience in Portugal I realized that before I personally answer the life purpose questions of myself I must take time to honor age and see the beauty in myself and others. I realized that the 4-key questions posed to me related to my own chapter in life and were directly correlated with how I viewed this subject of the stages of age.
It is never too late to initiate self-discovery. Developing a life map to process experiences and align action with a future vision can always be helpful. The first step is to do some personal exploration of the deepest beliefs that are held about age, retirement and the projections we place on ourselves and others related to growing old. As soon as we can shed light and positivity on the aging process we can look at the process as an ever expanding, evolving experience that never ends. On the margin of a drawing at the age of 87 Michelangelo wrote the words “Ancora Imparo” in Latin meaning “I am still learning”. This process of learning and reinventing oneself is everlasting.