My son Jimmy spent a few weeks at home this summer, before returning to Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH. Although I sometimes wonder how much he is taking advantage of his college years to consider how he wants to live his life, I am mightily encouraged by a book that he suggested I read – The Rhythm of Life by Matthew Kelly.
In the first chapter of this book, the author describes meeting with a group of high school seniors and asking them what they want to do with their lives, and he was disappointed by how little the kids had thought about this important question. Worse, the kids had given even less thought toward the how to achieve their objectives. So, at the end of the chapter, before expounding on establishing ends and means, the author suggested that each of his readers put the book aside and write down what they want to do with their lives –
- Before you read on, spend five minutes or five hours answering the question for yourself. What do you want from life? Take the time. Think it over. Write it down. There are no right or wrong answers. Write quickly. Don’t think too much. Don’t analyze or edit yourself as you make your list. Write everything down, even the ones you feel are foolish.
Because I am retired and 60 years old, the more traditional objectives of my energy – raising a family and having a successful career – are not as dominant as they once were. But that probably makes it even more important to rethink what I want to do in retirement. Here goes:
- Although I have not been aggressively looking for a mate, I think I should give that option a try. Not everyone is disposed to having a soul mate, but maybe I am. And I won’t know unless I try.
- As my kids start their own families, I want to help them and their families flourish.
- I want to develop a network of personal relationships. Right now, most of my encounters come from yoga/weights at Lifetime Fitness, and the relationships are like the Platte River – i.e., a mile wide and an inch deep. As those relationships deepen, perhaps I will make friends of friends. Maybe I’ll expand into biking groups, too.
- I don’t plan to get involved in politics again after my failed congressional and council races, but I will be filing suit shortly against the city of SA soon because of its illegal redistricting. So there is a chance that that activity will lead to something else, but right now that is not something I am going to look for.
- Blogging is something I plan to continue, not only because I enjoy it, but, like this document, I find that writing about something helps me think more clearly about not only mundane things, but also higher-level things.
After creating this list, I proceeded to read the remainder of the book. By far, the dominant theme of the book is that for a life to flourish, a person needs to develop four critical facets – body, relationships, intellect, and spirit (otherwise known as body, heart, brain, and soul). When I compared those facets to my list, I feel that I stumbled into solid compliance, although I should have better highlighted my daily 100-minute bike ride, which contributes immensely to body and spirit.
Incidentally, author Matthew Kelly described in the book that one of the most significant times in his life occurred when he took a three-month sabbatical at an Austrian monastery, the same one where my son Jimmy attended college last semester. Jimmy told me that it was wonderful reading about the author struggling with life’s issue under a big old tree while Jimmy was sitting under the same tree.