Why Boomers Need To Accept Impermanence

Nothing lasts forever. Given enough time, colors fade, buildings crumble, continents shift, even suns grow cold. People around us grow up and grow old. We grow up and grow old. It is the nature of things; it is the way of life. At a logical level, we realize this. After all, boomers are smart people! And yet, despite accepting reality and despite our logical thinking, it is not always easy to remain positive as we witness and participate in this gradual decline all around us. A loss realized is a loss felt.

Why love if losing hurts so much? We love to know that we are not alone. ~ C.S. Lewis

If boomers are not careful, it is possible to become obsessed with the impermanence of life and what is taken from us, fixating on the negatives. If in the end I am going to lose everything, what is the value of anything? I don’t want to become attached since I will ultimately lose it. Relationships and commitment scares me since 50% are destined to fail – why put in the effort?

On the flip side, boomers knowledge and acceptance of the impermanence of life can be a way for us to focus on today, appreciate what we have, not take for granted our loved ones, and generally live a more complete and satisfying life.

The Challenges and the Promises

If not for the impermanence of life, I would not be able to witness my daughter growing up and becoming the beautiful woman she is. Ever changing, ever progressing, we go through the process together. It is important to remain consciously aware of what is happening and appreciate each step along the way. Together we experience her first words spoken, her first unsure steps, the start of her school career at the wise age of five, school plays where she sings her solo and I in the audience with my heart pounding in rhythm to help her succeed, graduation from high school, and so quickly after that graduation from college. Each step along the way a distinct memory and one more piece of the final puzzle that will be her life. Without change and evolution and impermanence none of this could take place.

It is through impermanence that we start each spring observing life busting out as trees bud and bloom. Leaves grow and fill out the branches and life is abundant. Then as the months pass, we notice the greens fading to yellows and reds and oranges in vibrant displays of magnificent color. We know that this change in colors indicates the coming end of summer and the arrival of winter. And ultimately, leaves fall and trees are bare and life seems to stand still. But were it not for this cycle of life we would not have colorful autumns to populate our memories.

If I can learn to appreciate the impermanence of the world, hopefully I will stop taking for granted what happens to me each day. I will wake up next to my wife and truly appreciate her for the wonderful person she is and hug her close to me. When my uncle begins his rambling discourse on the topic du jour, I will pay attention and hear what he is saying. As I drive down the road with my wife in the passenger seat, I will be conscious of her presence and the blessing of our togetherness and I will not take it for granted.

Nothing is forever so we boomers need to appreciate now:

  • Enjoy every moment with those we love
  • Respect and value every experience and everything around us
  • Appreciate what we have now – good health, a roof over our heads, enough to eat, water to drink, warmth on a cold night, protection from the storm
  • Do not take friends and family for granted
  • If we have something nice to say, say it now
  • Don’t save all of the good wine for later
  • Live your life so at the end you have no regrets

Because I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me. The carriage held but just ourselves and immortality. ~ Emily Dickinson

Because of impermanence and the ever-changing world in which we live, bad weather storms in and then moves on, anger rises and abates, tears well up and then dry, and hope springs up in the most unlikely of places. Boomers need to learn to appreciate the value of impermanence. If I am healthy now, I will do what I can to maintain that health. Knowing that life itself is impermanent, I will appreciate each experience that much more. For each moment, I will be thankful, engaged, appreciative, and above all I will live and love that moment.

Kick Start your Retirement Day

Most important to-do for the day

It is not always easy to wake up and jump out of bed, anxious to face the new day and all it has in store. Maybe a little ache, a little slowness, maybe something on the agenda that you are not looking forward to or maybe it is just so nice and warm in bed that there is no real good reason to vacate. After all, you are retired. If you just had that little push to get you started…

This is the perfect time to take a few minutes and gather yourself and your thoughts for the pending day. Before you get out of bed, before your mind takes off reviewing lists of to-dos, take a moment to prepare yourself, take a breath and get yourself centered.

I start my morning with a quick check in with the Man upstairs, thankful that I am here, kicking and breathing, hopeful in the day at hand. Taking a few minutes to get the right perspective and start things rolling.

Then I go through a wonderful check list that I discovered while reading a book by Thich Nhat Hahn called The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching. In this book there is a section dedicated to the Noble Eightfold Path with a central theme of living in the present moment. What works for me is to think about each of the eight steps, one at a time, then move to the next (I will talk more about all eight steps in a later post). The whole process takes only a few minutes as you strive to get the right perspective before the day gets under way. Throughout each step, focus on your breathing – steady, rhythmic, peaceful.

Back to the central premise of focusing on the present moment.  You are here now so be here now. Do not worry about the past as there is nothing you can do to change what has already happened. Do not worry about the future which is beyond your grasp. These thoughts take your mind away from the present where you want to be to actually experience living. Appreciate and experience THIS moment, don’t worry about other moments. A rather simple thought but a powerful way to focus your energy before your retirement day commences.

And through the day, if things start to snowball and you get caught up in distractions and find your mind a million miles away, stop…remember to return to the present moment…and touch life deeply.

 

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.