It is official. I step across my line in the sand on August 17, 2017. It has been a 44 year journey to this last step. To tell you I am taking that step without fear would be a gross distortion of the truth. Of course there is fear. Ironically, I have held myself out as one who knows how to deal with fear and have prided myself in taking fear out of the equation for many people over the span of my career. I even intend to write a series of blogs about it so stay tuned if you are one of my followers. But here I am, ready to take the step, even committed to taking the step but fear still haunts my thoughts and dreams.
The fear I face is simple. Will I find the peace I have spent a lifetime looking for and in that peace will I still find fulfillment? I know that the fulfillment I seek will only come if I feel I still have purpose. I do not fear wasting away in the La-Z-boy watching hours of TV. I know I have too much restlessness for that to happen. But will I still feel that sense of purpose I have thirsted for all my life? Where will I replace what I do now, with what I continue to need going forward?
So why the title of this blog? I just returned from church where we rededicated our labyrinth. Before I go too far down this road, for those of you who don’t know what a labyrinth is or maybe think of it as a maze, it is not a maze at all and certainly not a corn maze. For a deeper understanding here is a link to a history of labyrinths and also a site to find labyrinths if you become so inclined to walk them.
Ours comes up at the second site if you list Madison, Wisconsin as your search criteria and then scroll down to “New Life” church.
The effect of any good labyrinth is that you are walking a path that at times brings you oh so close to the center , while at other times, the path actually moves you further away. From the standpoint of Christianity, the center represents your relationship with God and the walking sometimes brings a sense of peace, while at other times at least a sense of re-centering. I prescribe to both the church aspect as well as the metaphysical aspect of the labyrinth. I will not preach here but rather just try to make my analogy work.
When I think of the labyrinth as a representation of life, I view the circular pathway as our journey through it. We are all looking for something. Monty Python said it most humorously in their film “The Meaning of Life”.
For most of us it is our “purpose”. At times, on our journey, we feel we are close to finding it, or maybe better stated, as perfecting it only to find ourselves moving further away and wondering if we were destined to do something else. In my life, I changed careers in part because I questioned my purpose during one of those periods when I felt I was just moving away. The amazing truth is that I changed to a different career and yet my purpose remained the same. I was just moving back toward the center again. I found out that financial planning was a career just as teaching had been. Only the audience had changed. The purpose, it turns out, was solving problems for anyone that would seek my advice and becoming a mentor to anyone who would take the time to listen. It was peace that continued and still continues to elude me. Solving problems requires a great deal of personal involvement in not only the process but the outcome as well. It can leave you in a constant state of anxiety.
So back to the labyrinth. If the path is the purpose, then the center is the realization that you have discovered your purpose and there in lies the peace that comes with the knowing. For the restless spirit, reaching that center may likely not happen until you finally take that last step of the journey, retirement. And so I prayed today as I walked our labyrinth, that I would find not only that peace in understanding my purpose but that there would be a way in retirement to be affirmed for what I had accomplished and the opportunity to still fulfill my purpose.
Do I fear it? Of course I do or I would not be who I am. Walking the labyrinth and seeing it as my journey through life has helped. I recommitted myself to never stop looking for opportunities to fulfill my purpose in any form or way that presents itself and I think I took one more step toward the peace I am looking for.
I am retiring, but I am not “gone”.
PS: Get out of your La-Z-boy and go walk a labyrinth. Even if nothing comes from it, you will at least have gotten some good exercise.