The Window

Reader Contribution by Lois Hoffman
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I often wonder if the great inventors, scientists, composers, etc. get their inspiration as a great revelation or if it simmers in their soul for a while. My personal revelation came the other day and it hit me like a box of rocks. I don’t know what the cause was, but it hit me that I am in my “window,” the one I have waited for all my life and the one that will be gone before I know it.

Although the old adage that life goes faster the older you get is true, I have always looked at life a little differently. When you think of the phases that you go through, they are really quite defined.

As a kid, days are carefree and not really structured except for school. It is a time of exploring and finding out who you are as an individual. Then, all of a sudden when you hit the magical age of 18, you are supposed to leave the magical days of a kid behind and be a responsible adult, all overnight. This is where a lot of us have a few problems.

As an adult, years fly by and we are consumed by work, raising kids, paying mortgages and trying to save for our golden years. Then for most of us when we reach our mid-60s, like a butterfly, the transition continues. We throw in the towel from the work that we have done for the last 40-plus years and finally have our freedom. We are still young enough to pursue our dreams that have kept us going all the years, but we can’t dally too long because this stage will close in 10 or 12 years for many of us when we slow down and start having a few health issues… thus, the “window.”

It’s almost like we revert back to part of our childhood, the carefree and exploring part. Perhaps the biggest resource we have is time. No longer confined by the restraints of an 8–5 job, or any career demands of travel, working at home, etc., we are free to plan (or not) how we would like to spend our time. This is the era to write that novel, learn to sky dive, travel to Antarctica or to try just about anything that has been on our back burner most of our lives. Our sixties are the 50s of our parents and the 40s of our grandparents. If we have heeded the progress made in the health field and been good to ourselves and also been blessed with good health and rewarded for our efforts, we are basically free to try anything… as long as we don’t wait too long because that window will close early for some of us. When it will close, none of us know.

If the opportunities in life have been good to us and we have planned well financially, the sky is the limit for following our dreams. Even if our nest egg isn’t quite what we had hoped, there are still exciting possibilities for us. Not everything good in life revolves around money; connecting with old friends, making new ones and trying our hand at new talents that have never been developed usually cost little to nothing.

So many times when we reach this age, we fall into the trap of realizing that we have started on the second half of our life. The fact that we have more years behind us than in front of us can be daunting and disturbing. Too many fall into this category and only look at the regrets along the way. We all have them, but let’s not forget to look at what we have also accomplished. Most of us have kids and grandkids that will be going through this same “window” because of us. Hopefully, we have made a difference by what we have invested our lives in so far. Even if we haven’t been one of these fortunate, this can be a new beginning.

The real trick is to start on that bucket list. The real trick here is not to ever get to the bottom. You take one thing off and put two back on. This world is filled with so many possibilities and opportunities that, I know I will never get to the bottom of my list… and that is just fine.

We want to see the giant redwoods in northern California. Now is the time to actually walk through them and not just look from afar. It is the time to let go of some things and rituals that have always been part of our lives and replace them with new ventures. Hang onto the golden ones and let go of the not-so-golden ones. The only thing that is finite is the time that we have. It is time to laugh more than cry, not sweat the small stuff, be adventurous and not worry so much what others will think.

A friend and I recently visited a store called The Mercantile in Shipshewana, IN that has a restored 1906 carousel on its third floor. We didn’t watch the carousel; we rode and, for a few moments, we were transported back to being kids and we laughed. We are not looking through our window, we are living in it.

Photo by Getty Images/ArtMarie.

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