Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Surprise Gifts in Simplifying, Part I (#10 of 11)

Simplifying, the third principle in Leo Babauta’s “The Power of Less”, demands a certain amount of letting go – of “stuff” that serves no useful or important purpose, of plans and activities that waste time and energy, of things that are no longer necessary. 

Unfortunately, doing only that isn’t always enough. To really pare down to the essential, sometimes a major shift is required: retiring (as in my case) or leaving a job we love because our health has declined, moving away to be closer to a loved one who needs us, dropping out of clubs and activities in order to focus more on the things that matter most, the things that are essential.
“Focus” is Mr. Babauta’s fourth principle, and my focus is shifting to my health and serenity in this, the eighth decade of my life. I feel lighter for having made the decision to retire and to move away from the harsh New England winters I’ve known all my life. It didn’t come easily, giving up so much of what I’ve loved and worked so hard for, but I’m ready. Saying good-bye to my home and my neighborhood, knowing I won’t see the people I love as often, threatens to break my heart. We’ve promised each other we’ll travel to spend long, lovely visits together, and to keep in frequent touch via phone and the Internet. I am so grateful for the Internet!

On the last evening we were in Florida, before coming North to sell our home, my husband and I dined on a deck overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. We talked about the nine years we have been together, recalling how sick I was when we met, how we hadn’t been able to fully enjoy our grandchildren when they were little because I was so ill and so dedicated to my work, and he so intent on taking care of me and getting me stronger.

Afterward we took a walk on the boardwalk to the beach, down by the jetty, and stood on the sand, facing West. The sun was low in a puffy blue sky, and the surf softly lapped at the shore. We held hands.

“Look,” I said to him in wonderment, “it’s the cover of my book. Serenity. And we live here now. The picture has become our reality!”

We watched the fiery disc sink to the horizon, touch its own reflection and become larger as it sank into the sea, leaving a blazing trail of red, orange, pink and purple streaks across the darkening blue. 

I squeezed his hand and kissed him. “We live here now,” I marveled again.

Now that I’m well enough, we can finally enjoy the the time together that remains, doing the things we love most. We can’t know how long it will last, but we can make the most of every day.

(To be concluded next week.)