Life is a series of beginnings and endings. We leave one job to start another; we quit cities, countries, or continents for a fresh start; we leave lovers and begin new relationships. What was the last thing you contemplated leaving? What were the pros and cons? Have you made up your mind? What will you choose?
My son and daughter-in-law just quit the rat race of government contracting in the Washington D.C. area with its commuting nightmares and too many 10-12 hour days (including in the car time), to move to their beach cottage in North Carolina. Are they crazy taking a pay cut, jumping off the career ladder, chucking in their seniority, and leaving “important” jobs working in “top secret” positions? Who knows? It is easy to be get caught in the chaos, and to forget what really matters, like beautiful surroundings in a reasonably priced house, short commutes on scenic routes, and a job with plenty of work, but far less pressure. They have added 3 hours a day of time together with more relaxed dinners, walks to see the sunsets over the water, and people who are both friendly and helpful.
We’re contemplating a change, too. We’ve reached that stage of our lives when we’ve both retired, but are both still active and involved in various activities. It’s about time though to sell the family home of 30 years and move to a place more manageable. Do we stay in the city suburbs, or go somewhere else? City or country? Quiet or still in the middle of activity? So we have to rethink and figure out our priorities. That’s hard to do when so much of our lives have been involved with getting kids raised, educated, married, and settled in jobs and life. When all that seems to be going well, what next? To quote the song, “Shall I stay or shall I go?”
After so many years focused on family, it’s hard for both of us to think about what we want in the next stage of our lives. I have more of a wanderlust than my husband, but he also wants to travel. We already go the west coast to visit our daughter and family twice a year, and England/Scotland during the summer for about 3 weeks, but would be happy to spend more time in Europe, and also to see some places we haven’t been to, for instance the Caribbean or Puerto Rico, and to the north, some parts of Canada. And then of course, there’s our own country — much of which we haven’t seen and would like to visit. That long list doesn’t fit well with the large yard and garden we have to maintain, and my husband does enjoy gardening.
We look at our home and see it needs some work to be competitive when we sell it, yet it has suited us and we’ve all been happy here. Over the years we’ve made so many changes, reconfiguring spaces to accommodate 4 kids’ needs. The acre garden is also a small vineyard, and still has space enough for plenty of vegetables and fruit trees which we have planted. My husband has replaced many of the plants and shrubs with more native plants that grow well in Virginia. It’s a lovely peaceful, secluded spot, big enough for him to practice chipping (golf) across the width of the yard (no passing cars have been damaged in this exercise). Are there still people, families, who will want a yard this size?
We’ve started sifting through our stuff and sorting our what we don’t need or want anymore. That’s so hard — because some things have special meaning. Of course like many parents, we have a lot of stored kid stuff — but as they establish permanent homes, that’s going too. We differ about what to keep — but I’ll let that be their decision. There are some things I just can’t throw out myself.
We’re not role models for doing the making the right decisions. We’ve made some that weren’t so great, but they were lessons, and in the long run helped us along life’s road positively. I always say, “you can only do what you think is best at the time.” That assumes proper thoughtfulness and planning, but one never knows what the “right” thing is to do. It’s also better to live without regrets that you never gave something you really wanted to try a chance. It may require rethinking life, re-evaluating priorities and solutions to problems, but there may just a choice that makes life better and fuller.