A Quest For Spiritual Clarity As We Age
After forty years of work, Jeanne was feeling the effects of overtaxing schedules, endless priorities and mile high stress. Her health was beginning to suffer and she was on the verge of joining the not-so-exclusive club of the walking living and spiritually dead. She made the difficult decision to leave corporate life.
But instead of taking some well-deserved time to regroup, Jeanne dove right into setting up a consulting business. It was something she had dreamed about for a long time. While it was exciting at first, she came to realized that she’d simply traded the corporate treadmill for an entrepreneurial treadmill. Her ultimate goals of reducing stress and pursing more meaningful activities were further than ever.
It hadn’t occurred to Jeanne that the transition to a less jam-packed life would be as significant as starting a career or raising a family. She hadn’t understood how closely her self-worth was wrapped up in her work. It took her several years for her to see more clearly the spiritual dimension of who she was and to open herself up to exploring the big hairy questions we all want to explore, but are afraid to. When she realized she was still spending too much time at work, she knew she needed to do things differently. That’s when she saw more clearly the authentic self she wanted to become in this later stage of life. This realization helped her make the necessary adjustments so she could maintain a better balance between work and the rest of her life goals.
Some might say Jeanne experienced a spiritual crisis or sorts. In many ways I agree. This time of transition from work to more leisurely pursuits can feel like a spiritual quest, a time for:
• reckoning and coming to terms with regrets and unfulfilled dreams that will remain unfulfilled;
• understanding that legacy doesn’t happens after we’re gone, but rather gets created while we are still here;
• coming to the realization that time is growing shorter and the bucket list is getting longer;
• contemplating the wisdom of the heart instead of only the head;
• defining self-worth within a new framework of spiritual lightness, rather than net worth or work;
• expressing meaning and purpose in new ways.
Deepak Chopra says: “Ultimately spiritual awareness unfolds when you’re flexible, when you’re spontaneous, when you’re detached, when you’re easy on yourself and easy on others.” Retirement, semi-retirement, second act; whatever we call this time of life, seems like the perfect time to embrace spiritual curiosity and spontaneity; both of which allow us to become more enlightened, and to let go of the burdens that unnecessarily weigh us down. It’s the perfect time to search for what is meaningful and purposeful; to stay connected and engaged with others and with the world around us.
Spirituality is grounded in everyday living and in every loving act. The journey from a life of work to a life of leisure is one of the most significant journeys we take in life. It is a journey of movement from one place to another; and it looks different for everyone. Any such significant transition will undoubtedly be accompanied by a spiritual journey. One might even say that the journey of ageing is a spiritual experience in and of itself.
Even though Jeanne still keeps a fairly full work schedule, people often ask how she’s enjoying retirement and all the leisurely time that comes with it. At first that question didn’t sit well with her; but now she tells them she doesn’t know yet; that she’ll get back to them when she reaches this elusive destination called retirement.
Late actor, John Barrymore, asserts that “A man [woman] isn’t old until regrets take the place of his [her] dreams.” If that’s the case, I’m nowhere near ready for full retirement either. I have far too many dreams to pursue before getting old – a.k.a. retirement.