I constantly run into people of our generation who face the challenge of transitioning into the next stage of our life. I am one of those people.
As we rumble along towards that precipice of leaving full time work, we sometimes contemplate how we will fill that alleged “void”. Part of what seems to be running through some current literature in this area is the challenge of allowing us to be curious, and to follow that curiosity.
Sue Moon wrote a little thought piece in the current edition of Mindful magazine (June 2014). The article is called “Still Curious After All These Years” and talks about her transition from her 60s into her 70s and the attitude that it is an adventure into unknown territory. Stay curious as to what lies ahead and embrace it, seems to be her message. Part of the sub-text of this message is that old maxim that “attitude is everything” and that our mental state and approach to these life transitions really does impact how we choose to live life and see our future.
Yes, our health has a lot to do with this, however, we all know people who have learned to accept health issues and carry on in a positive and creative way. Part of what the article’s message is that it is helpful (and healthier) to let go of that which we cannot control and that the “active” pursuit of happiness may only serve to push it farther away. “Letting go”, she writes, “includes letting go of always wanting to be happy. The more I put happiness aside, the more easily I can settle with what is. The more I let go of being happy, the happier I am.”
This is really a way of trying to say that, as our tradition says, give thanks for being alive, live to celebrate each day, let go of the myth of being able to control what will be and let go of that which you cannot re-do from the past. That is not such a bad idea. As life opens up before us, it may be well to remember that how we choose to live will determine the type of person we become. That is why, I imagine, the tradition reminds us in Deuteronomy to “choose life”. No matter what age we are, not a bad idea. Stay curious, enjoy the day, let go of what we cannot control. Try that mantra on for May.
Rabbi Richard F Address, D.Min