As a survivor of a Bay Area based career it is not always easy to slow things down despite my enviable retired status. Old habits die hard and decades of hustling to the next event or jetting down the freeway toward another oh-so-important meeting impacted the person I was and influenced the lifestyle I lived. Everything was so fast. While in the midst of my career I honestly felt guilty taking a moment to escape the busy day. There was always something I could be doing, something I should be doing.
Now that I am retired I am beginning to understand not everything need proceed at turbo speed. It is okay to pursue the day at a sane pace. And it is much easier to appreciate and tune into the world around if moments are not flashing by at the speed of light.
In the Bay Area, heavy traffic is a fact of life. If you are on the road you expect to proceed at slower than posted speed limits in all but the rarest of times. As congestion increases everywhere, there is no longer any non-rush hour time to journey out. I never got used to the traffic. I would prefer to drive twice the distance so long as my car kept moving. Waiting, burning gas, watching the minutes tick by – it wound me up like a watch.
Where my wife and I retired there is no real rush hour traffic or at least nothing like what we were accustomed. There are a few stretches of highway that back up at various times of the day. But as I learn to be patient in retirement I am able to better deal with these delays. Perhaps it is because I am no longer pressured to be somewhere at a specific time. I sit back and remember how things are just 70 miles away and smile broadly. “This is rush hour traffic I can handle just fine!!”
Being patient is not always easy. If you are an active retiree there is nothing worse than sustaining an injury that sidelines from your normal pursuits. Exercise keeps us limber, engaged and out there living. I know that if I miss more than a few days I start to get a bit testy. My wife notes this as well and thank God for her patience!
As the aging game plays forward it doesn’t take something big to knock you out of circulation. A minor tweak of the knee and you end up unable to take your daily walk. A few months ago I tried a new yoga pose to relieve a little back/hip pain. Unfortunately I did it incorrectly and now two months later my elbow is a painful reminder to do it right or don’t do it at all. I haven’t returned to my normal workout routine and it drives me crazy. But I know how important patience is when it comes to recovering from injury, even more so entering my sixth decade. I am letting time mend me, doing what I can around the injury to stay active, optimistic I will be back before too long. And when I am, look out!
Throughout life we will run into situations that test our patience. We all have our hot buttons, triggers that quickly set us into orbit. Where traffic is my personal bane others may feel challenged when forced to engage in mindless small talk or tolerate barking dogs at night or enduring those ever so slow grocery clerks.
When I feel my tension level rise I try to consciously slow down. I take a few slow, deep breaths to help bring my heart rate back to normal. I put a smile on my face to help put things in perspective. Most importantly I remind myself where I am in life – retired from the rat race, free to spend my days as I choose to, able to proceed at a reasonable pace, no longer burdened by must-have-an-answer-now decisions. Feeling in control of my days is a blessing.
Sure I get a little impatient on occasion. But I am learning what matters and what does not. I try to overlook the annoying little things, to focus my time and energy on what matters and what I enjoy. Living in that state there is no cause to hurry. I savor my freedom and appreciate the moments I am fortunate enough to live.