Archive for May 5th, 2010

I live in an area where there are a lot of well-to-do people, especially retired well-to-do people. It is interesting watching many of them in the twilight years of their lives.  Some find really purpose and meaning with their lives.  I know many that volunteer at the local food banks.  I was talking to one lady last night who had spent most of the day reading to elementary school aged children and was going to do so again today.

One of the big questions in our American culture as one nears retirement is the question of “quality of life.” Retirement communities sell their time-shares boasting the quality of life they offer to potential members.  Everything from senior travel excursions to activities at the local senior centers offer to improve one’s quality of life.  This is selling short, I believe, the whole idea of “quality of life.”  It is selling out to the idea that the American twin-gods of Comfort and Convenience are the altar at which we should be worshiping when we approach the end of our lives.

There is a potential for larger impact in one’s retirement years than one may expect. The freedom of time and the possibility of disposable income could increase one’s footprint upon bettering society and leaving a more promising future for the next generation.  Whether it involvement in a Creation Care organization or project, volunteering at a local school or after-school program, helping at a homeless shelter, clothing or food bank, or giving time and energy to one’s place of worship, there is a lot of life left in life; too much life to only give away to golf courses, cruise ships, bingo and shuffle boards.

Yellow Flower, June 2007

Yellow Flower, June 2007 ©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2010)

As I was driving through one of the retirement neighborhoods in my area, I could not help but notice the well-kept yards and gardens. Personally, I think this is a great way to get out-of-doors and exercise.  Then, something caught my attention that jerked me into reality.  An elder lady had a shop-vac out and was vacuuming her driveway!  Of course, I had to slow down and do the looky-loo thing.

Sure enough, she was cleaning her driveway with a shop-vac! I suppose it beats sweeping.  However, in this part of the state of Washington, in the Spring-time one only needs to wait for the next windstorm to come through and clean up the place (or pile it against the back fence, which in itself is also a convenience as it puts all the neighborhood garbage and desert tumble weeds in one easy-to-get-to location).  In any case, it is a pointless effort.  Then, the reality of what I saw dawned upon me.

I can only surmise that this particular retired person was bored. Why else would one waste their time vacuuming a driveway (and it wasn’t a small one, I might add).  There was nothing more important to do with her life or her time!  She and her husband, who was standing nearby watching (probably waiting his turn), needed a place more important to give their time and energies than cleaning their driveway with a vacuum.  The well-manicured lawn and gardens revealed that they were taken care of already.

Of course, witnessing this geriatric exercise in futility touched my funny-bone deeply. I’m suddenly wondering to myself if that is something I will find myself doing in another 25 years.  Lord, please, I hope not.  I hope my neighbors get annoyed with me because my yard and gardens never quite look right.  I hope that my drive way goes unswept; let alone unvacuumed.  Why?  Because I hope that I’ll be too busy giving my life to more important things that will last beyond my lifetime and into eternity.  Otherwise, if in another twenty-five years you happen to pass my house and see me out vacuuming my driveway?  Please call hospice.  It’s time to put me asleep.

©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2010)

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