I don’t care about living boldly. I just want to live.
A favorite past-time for my husband and me is to talk about what we’re going to do when we retire. I am eager for when my time is my own, to do with what I please. But when I think of actually having that time, on a daily basis, I get kind of freaked out. Our society is achievement-driven and hyperbolic; everything must be bold and brave, epic and adventurous, the fastest, greatest, biggest, most. Are my dreams big enough? What is my “thing” that defines me? What do I aspire to? What’s my passion?
I worry about these things. I worry that I should have a goal in mind for my life, that I have to be moving toward something.
I’m likely more than halfway through my allotted days. As our kids grow up, I become more aware that the number of years I’ll be here is shrinking. By the time I retire, I’ll be even closer to death.
Life is astonishing. I don’t need big and bold and epic to appreciate the nearly incomprehensible fact that we exist. I continually wonder that we are even here, that we live and breathe and create. We create pragmatic things to help us survive, and we create to bring beauty into the world as well. Who thought to create a piano or a saxophone? I mean look at them! The strings and hammers and keys of the piano, the curves and valves and reed of the saxophone. What must have gone into creating these instruments to make the sounds they make to bring them together as music, and for what reason? For pleasure and beauty. I look around the room I sit in, at the photographs on my wall, and the fountain pens I write with, and the lined notebooks, and the lamps and lightbulbs, the smooth glass windows that slide open and shut, the dishwasher that churns away, the language I type and that’s printed in books, and humans invented all of this! We started with rocks and sticks, and now we have laptops and appliances, electric light and indoor plumbing, toothbrushes and tissue boxes, beds and blankets, and it’s all absolutely marvelous. I can’t get over it.
So when I think about retirement, and my existence right now, I don’t want to waste it. I want to be an active participant in life. I don’t think that means I have to be bold or adventurous. I think it can be simpler than that. I can sniff the air, or grow flowers for birds and butterflies. I can seek the beauty and excellence that so satisfies my soul. These bring me deep pleasure and a sense of awe. I can write small things, and build fires, and make nice dinners, and laugh with my family and friends.
I’m weary of thinking that to live life to its fullest, I need a big dream or that I must be bold or that I should be striving towards something. I think what works better for me is to just savor the life I have in the time that I have it.
This is my response to Bloganuary prompt 11: What does it mean to live boldly?