What should we do if we feel our retirement lives slipping into monotony? What if we sense that playing it safe is starting to take precedence in all our choices? The world calls that “getting stuck in our ways.” It’s how grumpy, stubborn older adults often are described.
It helps to have an adventurous friend to guard us against becoming one. We aren’t always so lucky. Sometimes we need to find the courage to stay out of the “stuck trap” —alone.
Here are three places to look for inspiration.
What can we do physically now that we may not be able to do in 5-10 years? A few years ago, I climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe in the same day. My knee surgery last year probably would rule that out from now on.
It’s so easy to think we will be able to do forever what we can do now. Projecting our health ahead a few years can wake us up about the time we don’t want to lose being stuck. We won’t get the time back. (And there’s a good chance my knee never be what it once was.)
Then there’s the difference time will make in the lives of the people we love. Our grandchildren may not want to camp or canoe with us once they reach their teen years. Pulling out the camping gear may rip us out of our comfort zones. But letting time slip by can rob us of irreplaceable experiences.
What were the most exhilarating experiences of our lives?
The excitement we felt from splendid experiences can be relived through the eyes of someone else. I remember the feeling I had the first time I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge. I was young and in awe of the great red span. At the time, I’m not sure I believed I would ever see that bridge or see California for that matter. It was glorious.
Last spring, my daughter and I crossed the Golden Gate. She hung her head out the window of our rental car as the radio was up full blast playing Miley Cyrus’s newest song, “Malibu.” (At least she wasn’t driving!) I will never forget the glee I saw on her face and heard in her voice as she sang along.
A lot of our favorite memories can be remade by watching someone we love as they see something, do something, feel something we have experienced before. Being a witness to someone else’s memory of a lifetime is a whole new adventure that is sure to keep us “un-stuck.”
What are other people doing that we want to do?
If we look around, we are sure to find those folks who will never get stuck. They are profiled in newspapers and magazines or are out in the neighborhood or community making waves. They make great role models.
I’ve kept a file for several years of articles about people I want to be when I grow up and older. I titled it, “Some Day.” We can start now, keeping tabs on the grownups in our world that are anything but stuck. They’re no special sauce really.
We just need to look around.