The search for meaning, part 2. What nourishes my soul?

My bid to find meaning in retirement gets underway today and I’ve found an interesting article in Psychology Today, here’s an excerpt:

“No matter how much you look forward to retirement, you may wake up the morning after your last day at work and feel sadness or anxiety. For decades, your days and weeks were structured. Sometimes we don’t know what we’re going to miss until it’s gone, and structure and community are things you may be surprised to miss. Whether you recently retired or are thinking about your future retirement, it’s a good idea to formulate a plan for the day after your day-job ends.”

Interesting this but my experience is different as my journey to retirement has been gradual and I already have a plan in place, or do I?  I plan my days and have a year plan of holidays but nothing more than this.  Maybe I need to think in more detail about things other than holidays and plan further ahead? The article goes on to look at leisure and makes some good points: 

“Golf and cruises can be fun but a life of leisure isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Instead of thinking of retirement as a permanent vacation that ends in mortality, think of it as an opportunity to slip the harness of career and run-free. The goal isn’t to feed your bank account but your soul.  Find some quiet time alone to answer the following questions”

  • What makes me excited to get out of bed in the morning?
  • What exercises make me feel good about my body?
  • What activities nourish my soul?
  • Who do I want in my life, and who is missing from it?

These are interesting – and challenging – questions to answer.

“Excited” is a big word and I suppose the answer is doing fun things and change. For me that would often involve some kind of travel.  I particularly enjoy the start of travel, the anticipation.  When flying long-haul I love the overnight stop in an airport hotel, the meal, the bar, the buzz of an exciting place.  I don’t like the packing, getting through airport security and some of the actual travel itself but there’s something about that first bit that is truly exciting.  Same is true of arrivals once you are settled, where there is the expectation of new places to see and things to do.  Even in the most wonderful of places that feeling diminishes over time.   So I guess something of the answer is new things and change.

“Exercises that feel good” – I do two main exercises. Running which makes me feel better mentally though parts of me can hurt – my right knee! – afterwards and there is a limit to how much of it I can do. It gives me a sense of achievement that I can run 10k and I’m sure it’s good for my health. I also play tennis which has a social element which I enjoy and is more demanding mentally because there are tactics to think about and skills to deploy with each shot. The downside is that you can’t always win and sometimes I enjoy it less when I lose. I like most things with a competitive element now I think about. During lockdown I’ve been playing table tennis and darts, doing quizzes, playing Wordfeud which all have helped keen me sane.

“Nourish my soul” – I’m going to reflect on this more but I guess things where I get a sense of accomplishment such as writing a well-crafted blog. Making my garden look better which involves a certain amount of toil but feels worth it for the pleasure it gives. Reading a good book which inspires ormakes me think nourishes me too. There is something nourishing in risk reward. I feel good when my shares go up in value which is not just a monetary thing, it’s because I did something that worked. I want to be fit and happy. I like to feel loved which I do most of the time, respected/admired would be good too but that takes a lot of earning. I want to have fun, do more of the things I enjoy such as travel, days out, eating out, drinking in cool bars, going to London, sex, bacon sandwiches… I enjoy using and mastering technology. I like having control of my space, my finances that kind of thing. My wants feel a lot more active than they used to be, doing nothing, sun-bathing, watching TV appeals much less now that work is behind me. Having said all this I’m not sure this is about “my soul” which is why I need to reflect more.

“Who do I want?” – Mrs Jones, of course, is the key but she is away working for large parts of the year so I need to find other social interaction for the time-being at least. With the lockdown I’m missing friends and the experiences that go with being with them – a few beers in the local pub putting the world to right, watching sport with a friend, eating out, having people round for a barbecue that kind of thing.  I also sometimes feel that I could do with longer time with my kids, my dad and some other family members – rather than just visits of an hour or two visit – something deeper, just being with them rather than all the focus being on conversation. Thankfully there is no-one that is missing apart from perhaps building a relationship with my nephews.

Not exactly sure what to do with these thoughts but I’m going to reflect and research more and continue my journey to meaning.

Published by brianjonesdiary

Dad, husband, brother and son. Interested in travel, politics, sport, health and much more. Semi-retired and aiming to making the most of life as I approach my sixth decade.

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