I've Landed!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year to the Family National Guard





A Special Happy New Year to the Family National Guard


Since 1980, a growing share of unmarried adults have been living in their parents’ homes according to census data.

“Older parents are playing a much greater role than was the case a few decades ago,” said Mr. Cherlin, who calls grandparents a “family national guard.”

“In recent years, more grandparents have been called up for active duty.
They are glad to help, but some are looking forward to the day when they can go back into the reserves.”  

Well, the middle east wars have taught us what being in the "reserves" means!!

Good luck, Grandpa and Grandma.  You may have more than one tour of duty!
Supporting adult children can mean physical, emotional, and financial strains, especially for older Americans who’ve stepped in and taken over parental duties for an absentee adult.

Being old does not mean being unimportant.  Even if we are poor as we age, we are usually giving of ourselves to those around us until it's over.
And it ain't over yet, baby!

No wonder as a critical care nurse I saw so many teenagers and young adults sobbing over their dying grandparents.  I was so impressed that the dying of the aged could be so traumatic to the young.
Image result for images of dying person
                                       100things.com.au
It ain't over yet, baby!

We, the aged, are important.

Image result for images of dying personradio.cz

So take care of yourself!


 Thanks for stopping by and sharing NY's Eve with me,
Happy New Year, 
Riverwatch










Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pioneering for our telomeres (the stringy thingies)




The Alliance for Aging Research  has up-to-date articles on research on aging that are very interesting.

http://www.agingresearch.org/section/newsletter/archive/fall13/glance/

I was especially interested in the research showing calorie restriction lengthens life.

Once upon a time, my ancestors ate to live.  Somehow we have jumped the track and we find food to BE the social playground.  I think we better go out to the real playground more often and get back on track!!

I feel a little hypocritical saying that, because I am a great great great fan of "Pioneer Woman".  I love to watch the food she cooks up for the kids, hubby and ranch hands!  As soon as her program is over, I turn off the TV and head to the kitchen to see if I can duplicate the feast!

Like the doctor said, "You have to stop having all those intimate dinners for 4, unless you invite 3 other people."

Hope you like the research that says it's possible to get healthier and live longer.....that your telomeres can actually grow if you restrict calories!
That is stunning news about our DNA stringy thingies!


Riverwatch








Saturday, November 9, 2013

Conscious Aging





step into the void around us


volunteering
     care taking
          mentoring
               creating
                    teaching
                         activism
                              praying
                                   socially conscious business activity
                                        become a mystic


unwrap and offer our gifts


this is heaven on earth  ....play, create, keep the home fire burning

the Great Work lies before us......aging.......spiritual growth



"pray and faint not"



Thanks for the visit,
Riverwatch















Friday, November 1, 2013

Life





You know how it is sometimes when you are old. You look around, especially at other old people, and you begin to wonder about life. Good grief.
Your brain is so tender you cannot even formulate the question that might send you screaming into the night.

And so I pray.

In such a strange mood, I went out into the crowd again to see what I would see.

Here is what I saw:

Babies in their mother's arms, screaming for things they could not have.

Mothers herding or carrying children. Mothers who DID NOT LOOK HAPPY!

Young men gazing off into nothingness, stress wrinkles appearing right before your eyes, walking alongside little families. Trailing alongside little families. Sometimes a toddler in arms, held skewampus and sort of like an afterthought.

Old people shuffling and huffing and fighting gravity.

More old people shuffling and huffing and fighting gravity.

Blowing winds.

Clouds in our no-longer-normal sky.

Birds, desperate for crumbs.


I scurried back to my dwelling.
Sad.
Wondering.
Afraid of the answer.

And so I prayed.

Night fell, covering my dwelling and sad sleep.

I awakened from a WOW dream of peace, as though a book were being written for me.
Scrolling down like scanning news on a computer.
Every serious writer knows this kind of advancing clarity, a gift.

To serve God.
To live.
To procreate.
To love.
To cling to life. To make the effort.
To fulfill thy days.
To love and pray for others.
…...the Fabric of Life.




No longer sad,
thanks for dropping in,
Riverwatch





















Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What's a Good Scare Worth?




What's a Good Scare Worth?



Hi.  Welcome to my post on behind-the-scenes at a state of the art - highly rated acute care hospital that I am familiar with.

Just an ordinary, busy day in cooker-care-medicine down in the Imaging Department.  Highly qualified professionals on duty.
A young man (between 30 and 50 yrs old) laying there on the hard cold slab we call a "table", waiting on the big exam.
Actually, it wasn't all that big of an exam.   Inject a little dye into his vein (an IV is already going to "establish" an open access to his vein) and then snap the images and we are "good to go"!
The nice man on the table is what we call a patient.  That does not necessarily mean he is patient, but this man is patient and agreeable.  He has signed all the forms allowing the professional team to work on him.  He is trusting and  "good to go." 

Tech has laid out all needed supplies for the injection on the near-by small scootable table, and she is exceptionally happy because it is the END of her shift and another tech is taking over.  She is "good to go", right in the middle of the exam.

If nobody else has told you, let me apprise you:  CHANGE OF SHIFT IN AN ACUTE CARE HOSPITAL IS THE MOST DANGEROUS TIME IMAGINABLE FOR THE PATIENT.
I don't care what they say, at change of shift you, the person, are momentarily forgotten, maybe even abandoned, while the oncoming shift gets to hear about you, your condition or disease, and your treatment plan.  And we do like to update ourselves on our own lives and challenges ......so you may hear laughter, expletives, exclamatory noises and all sorts of talk about the upcoming weekend, even the latest sports scores. (Whispering means they are talking about hospital administration, or who's sleeping with who, or maybe they are whispering about your condition.)  Hospital administration tries hard to get professionals to have no personal life, but no matter how hard they try they cannot get human nature stamped out completely.
Not to worry.....the robots are coming, are even edging in at present!

But this day there are no robots.  Human nature is in full cry.

The word is passed that "he" is ready for his injection, and the first tech leaves.  The second tech takes over, surveys the supplies on the scootable table and sees that the syringe is "good to go".......he injects the contents which is NOT the clear fluid dye, but is, instead, 50 ml of air waiting to be plunged  into the vial of dye so the 50ml of dye can be easily drawn up into the syringe & then injected into the patient!!!

YIKES  !!

The patient immediately "codes" (dies).  A big bolus of air when it hits the heart is lethal since it contracts and expands with the beating of the heart and disallows room for blood to enter the chamber of the heart.
That air has found a home and it is going nowhere.  Contract....expand....contract...expand...
The patient has died clinically....not biologically....and the highly qualified team discern the problem immediately and spring into action.

Ordinary CPR won't do it.  This big bubble of air in the patients heart can be dealt with only in a hyperbaric chamber (such as those used to treat the deep sea bends).

Miracle of miracles the hospital has a brand new hyperbaric chamber......and the race to save the patient is on.

He is not only saved, he is saved "intact".....no damage whatsoever.

He wakes up in a different area of the hospital and has no clue where he has been.......but fear sets in.

Good to go, he leaves the hospital on schedule, a well man.......but he decides to sue the hospital for his unexpected ordeal.
**

I was with a risk management group listening to the pleas of the competent team to NOT let this patient win big bucks.  Come on!  They SAVED him!  Where is his gratitude?  He was not damaged and aren't you supposed to not be able to sue unless you are damaged?

I shall never forget our own corporate lawyer speaking to us as  a group.
"What's a good scare worth?
In terms of money.......what could we pay you to lay on that table and get a 50ml bolus of air intravenously?"

We were all silent.  No response.  No matter how badly we wanted that second home on the mountain. or a year off to tour Europe, or enough money to make our kids suck up to us, we were all smart enough to know to avoid flatlining (even temporarily ) on the way to a rich life.

Naturally the patient won.
He didn't even have to go to trial.
No hospital wants bad press and there was no way to make this one look good or even ok.
These situations are worked out behind closed doors, away from the consternation babble of competent team members who did a magnificent job saving a patient.


But some patients really are grateful.  A doc once told me that he found his most grateful patients were the ones he rescued from his own mistakes.

Change of shift time in a hospital puts a bit of fear into all of us health care professionals whether we are leaving our shift or arriving for our shift.  Our nighttime nightmares are often studded with "what did I forget?" or "the next shift isn't coming and I have to stay!"
We health care professionals really are great.  We care.  We dream about you.  We have nightmares about our responsibilities to you.

Yet Hillary Clinton said RNs are the biggest waste of money in health care!
Do you suppose she would value my opinion on Bengazi?

It is true it would be nice if no mistakes were ever made, but my bias is I want a team that is highly competent and motivated to rescue me from their own mistakes.

And my advice to all is that should you ever survive a Good Scare in the hospital, get a Good Lawyer.

A good scare is worth a lot!







Thanks for your visit,
Riverwatch, RN













Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"Help Me Find God! I Have The Aging Crazies."




Abou Ben Adhem

By Leigh Hunt

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
"What writest thou?"—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,

And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.




Riverwatch





Sunday, September 1, 2013

Camouflage




I admit it.  I am unhappy with my hair.

OK.  I admit it.  I am grateful I even have hair.

Has your luxurious hair changed over time?

At least I had luxurious hair when I was young.

I once worked with an unusual looking, but attractive, youngish woman who had been born without eyebrows or eyelashes.
It took newcomers who came into the work arena months to figure out her "problem".  It was funny, even to her, to watch people try to figure out "what  was strange about her".
See, she painted her lips bright, bright red.
I mean BRIGHT red!

You knew at a glance that there was "something about Ginger".....
but nobody that I knew of figured it out on their own.
Ginger always had to be the one to break the secret.
"I have no eyebrows or eyelashes!" she would eventually confess so the puzzled stare could finally stop.

Camouflage.  We all need a bit of it somewhere sometime.

Sometimes camouflage is just a trick to draw attention elsewhere.

Ginger didn't paint eyebrows on her face.

 She painted red on her lips.



Frankly my big hope is that somebody designs a personal cloaking device.

Too heck with camouflage!
Too  heck with artistic trick-of-the eye manuevers.
I want, I need, a personal cloaking device.
I am getting the yen to be a kid again and slide down the sliding board....and to spy on some of my neighbors rather than talk with them.....
and to heist a few items from the local supermarket!  (stealing is more about anger than need, you know)

I'm thinking I have to put all these "new desires" on hold until personal cloaking devices come out.

I am thinking I would be happy with a personal cloaking device.
Free at last!  Free at last!  Thank God Almighty I am free at last!

Do you think your behavior would change if you had a personal cloaking device?

Would I even comb my hair?  Surely I would stop the dye job.  And what about my bangs?
I don't have one picture of me since I grew hair at 5 months old, without bangs!
Bangs look cute on a baby and on toddlers...even on a teenager, but I am beginning to believe I have that Mamie Eisenhower look that no doubt contributed to Ike's alleged inability to stay true.
Can you blame the man for not staying true to an old woman with bangs?
Recall, if you will, the luxurious hair of his driver, Kay.  No bangs for that fashion model!

I pulled my bangs off my forehead the other day, desparate for a break in how I look, and I can tell you there was NO IMPROVEMENT.

Bangs are my little attempt at a cloaking device.
And I am beginning to admire...barely.....those teenage girls and young women with globs of stringy hair covering one eye and half their face.  Cloaking.

I am telling you, design a personal cloaking device and it will make you rich beyond your wildest dreams.


Thanks for visiting my blog.
Riverwatch


















Thursday, August 15, 2013

Shocking






Re-reading Future Shock by Toffler, I know I made a mistake when I threw it in the trash as rubbish back in the early 70's.  It was all the rage back then, so I read it.                                                             I read it, laughed with derision and tossed it.

Let me tell you, I made a mistake.

That book was a winner.

I am now living in the world of shock that Toffler discribed, a world where change is so rapid I can scarce hang on.  The human body has only so much ability to respond to rapid changes, and when changes speed up, we begin to scramble.  If the speed continues or continues to build, we begin falling off the tracks.  Shock.

Toffler also described the internet long before it arrived for us........he described a new kind of human creature that he terms "modular man"......someone "plugged in" to many many other beings, but on a limited scope that allows us to interact (on a modular scale) to many many many other people.
Probably none would attend our weddings and funerals because we are not relating as whole persons, but rather as just pieces of ourselves.  Still and all, it is "connect".

I'm glad I found a copy to re-read.



Do you find our present is more wearing than our past?

Thanks for checking in....on a modular level,
Riverwatch














Sunday, August 11, 2013

Stars in our Sky







For age is opportunity no less

Than youth itself, though in another dress,

And as the evening twilight fades away,

The sky is filled with stars invisible by day.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow











Hoping you get to watch the meteor shower tonight,
and have a star filled day,
Riverwatch











Monday, August 5, 2013

Funerals, Fly-bys and Fiasco's





Funerals, Fly-bys and Fiasco's



A decade or so ago, I became "unfulfilled" going out with a small group of my older-than-me-friends on lunch dates that turned into funeral chats.
I was trying to decide about retirement and they were planning their deaths!
This does not work for me! I thought.
Gotta hang with the less depressing people who are plotting retirement, not death.

I should not have worried about maybe hurting their feelings by opting out of lunch.
One by one they died, or faded away in some other fashion.
Not one of them remains on the scene.
I was hardest hit by Ellen's death.  She was the one I was closest to, and THERE WAS NO FUNERAL.
Ellen had said to us that she wasn't having a funeral....and I thought she was kidding!

Her death hit me hard, because.....there was not a way provided to grieve in community for her.

Oh, I grieved privately, but when I would talk with anybody about Ellen it was one on one and I had to initiate the conversation "out of the blue".  We never even went out to lunch together as friends to cry  in our soup that Ellen was gone.
One of the group dismissed my scattered wool gathering by saying, "Oh, Ellen was such a plaintive woman."
I puzzeled over the word plaintive for days, weeks, months....and years.  Damn it!  Give me a story about Ellen that goes with plaintive!  What does plaintive mean?

I almost bought a little doll that looked like Ellen to stand on my dresser to remind me of her and how important her friendship was to me.  I didn't buy the doll.  It was a money thing.  Is that sad or what that grieving has its monetary limits for some people!
I tenderly put "Ellen" back on the store shelf, saying a whispered choked up, heart felt good-bye to her.

Of course I do not blame Ellen for axeing her own funeral.  She was, after all, a plaintive woman.

I don't like funerals either.

How horrid that I am now thinking of my own future funeral.  And yours!

Mostly mine.

It's odd my thoughts have turned to a subject I  am not real interested in  since my funeral will not be for me.

It won't be for me.

It will be for those left behind.

And speaking of those left behind......  Janie just told me of a funeral she went to for someone on her husband's side of the family.
It was only the second funeral within that family group Janie has attended and apparently the first funeral fiasco had taught them nothing!

Janie said the entire family is unchurched, and completely incompetetent about the whole grieving and burying thing.

However, that family does have one pagan cult member (not that there's anything wrong with being a pagan)  who was interested in certain strange rituals....so that fueled a family fight at the cemetery.  Which struggle went well with the misting rain that was wrecking havoc with the Fed-Ex box of ashes flown in that very day from Oregon.
"My god, they are burying Grandma in a Fed-Ex Box!"
There was no one in charge, but several opinionated attendees.
Apparently the children who were present stood on lawn chairs, the better to see the cemetery drama.
The entire farewell took place under the weepy sky, no overhead shelter.

There was no pastor present to help unify the attendees who were "done with" each other for long-standing reasons.

Apparently the funeral itself was a reason to grieve.
Individuals left that funeral angry...jaded.....disappointed.....or relieved.......
but certainly not uplifted, nor strengthened individually or as a group.


Birth.  Marriage.  Death.  Life's great events.  Meant to be shared, both joy and grief, in community.

Is your community in place and working well for those you will leave behind?

I wonder, if we look down on a departure for us that has materialized into a fiasco, will we laugh or weep?
Either way I doubt any of us, having lived to be old, will be stunned by what we see at our departure gate.


Probably plaintively yours, (whatever that means)

Riverwatch










Sunday, August 4, 2013

Is Time Speeding Up?







Hello,

Well, regardless of its title, this little short vid is not about How Long Can You Live.

It is about How Long Does It Feel Like You Are Living & Why.

Hope you like it....if you are not too rushed to view it.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LyCC6jjcx8

Hoping you are having a fun day!  Thanks for dropping in.
Riverwatch












Friday, August 2, 2013

My Garden is a Zen Garden



Peace.
Tranquility.
The desert.

I love the desert for its tranquility.  Especially in the heat of the day, or even the cool of the night.  I was just out this morning before dawn and saw a lump on my sidewalk.   I flipped open my flashlight and the lump awakened to a mighty confused flight and hit my house wall.  A scrambling self-correction and the huge bird was off into the dark sky, tranquility restored here on the ground.

So it is with my garden.  It didn't start out to be a Zen garden, but it is nothing but!
Traces of hope can be felt gently escaping its desert environment.
Soil ammendment has been only mildly successful, allowing only the asparagus to soldier on in the heat.
All else is desert, level, tranquil, a retreat for lizards.  You know....the Zen thing.
Not even birds bother it.  Why should they?  They love the rook, another microclimate for life.

I love my Zen Garden.  I would rake it and take a picture of it for you, but why should I?  I just don't want you to see.  It's a Zen thing.
 I want your happiness, not your pity....so....no pictures.

Peace.
Tranquility.
Dehydration.
The desert.

It's a Zen thing.

Makes me sleepy just to think about it.
Sipping water,
Being glad you visited,

Riverwatch












Thursday, July 25, 2013

Erase, Forget, Delete, Delete-delete, Write Over



I'm losing my pointers!!!


My son sent me this little vid to help me laugh or stop worrying about my brain.  
I found it interesting, and it helped me understand what it is that I am experiencing in my aging brain:  I'm losing my pointers!


Hope you enjoy this computer techie vid.


                         https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5s4-Kak49o





Hoping you don't delete me,
Understanding better why I haven't been able to ever successfully shred, erase, delete any....shall we call them "things"?
Riverwatch

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Young Father With Faith







A Young Father With Faith




Some comments are truly stand-alone comments, too precious and memorable to let go.




"I have faith my children will grow up and chose a good spouse like I did.......ahh, my second wife."













Sunday, June 23, 2013

Super Moon and Desert Addiction




So.....did you see the Super Moon last night or early this morning?  I did.  Last night just for fun and very early this morning as I was out for my walk.

Glorious.

I admit I miss the pine trees, and the green that comes with cloudy days and rainy nights, but I am now a desert addict.  Someone once told me when I moved to Arizona decades ago and was melting into a weak noodle, that I would become addicted, so not to worry about my early reaction.
"Drink water, eat salt, be happy."

The southwest desert is an expanse I have grown to love.

Turns out that sunshine really is addicting.

So is moonlight.

My teenage grandson was visiting, and he was in a reflective mood.  "Grandma, you know what is  strange when you think about it?  How puny ants are compared to us.
....And how puny we are compared to the earth.
    .....And how puny the earth is compared to the sun.
         .....And how puny the sun is compared to the universe."

Let's not forget how puny an atom is. Yet split it, and BOOM what energy!

Let's hear it for puny!!

Shine on ME,  desert moon!  Shine on me.

Shine on us.

Loving talking with my grandson
Under the desert moon,
Happy you visited my blog.  Thanks.
Riverwatch






Friday, June 14, 2013

How Valuable?




How Valuable?

Four decades of hospital work as an RN  (to include a probable total of one year dreaming about hospital work after I retired) and I have this testimony of physicians and nurses:

      I never met any doc who did not earn every dollar he or she was paid,

      I never met any nurse who was paid  as much as she or he was worth.


Riverwatch, RN



Do you remember in the 70's when Hillary Clinton came to Utah and announced that the most expensive waste in health care was .......RN's.   !!!!!   the price of RN's .
Do you remember that?
I do.
Because the Big Nurse Guru at the Health System hospitals where I worked came to our hospital around that same time to meet with us nursing leaders to advise us she wanted a written submission from each of us on what RN's in our hospital do "that any trained monkey couldn't do".

I never submitted mine.

I didn't even advise Ms Guru that there was something I could do that a trained monkey couldn't do:  I COULD WRITE ABOUT HER... AND HILLARY'S... SUBSTANDARD ASSESSMENT SKILLS AT A LATER DATE!

       I have written!
       I am vindicated!

Of course Hillary will never need our services.  She and all the other government guru's have tax-payer paid insurance coverage for a lifetime that would knock your eyes out!  
She will have RN's and Doc's galore to take care of her!
Why do we let them get away with it?
We do have power.  

We have the power of shunning.

Or we can sit back as old people , fully aware that crap rolls down hill......
and as the young people know, we all live downstream.
It is pretty much a waiting game.......unless you serve your country in Benghazi.



Sunday, June 9, 2013

Remembering Mr. Rogers













If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those 

you meet, how important you can be to people you may never even

 dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every 

meeting with another person.


"Mr. Rogers"







being grateful for others,
Riverwatch





Friday, June 7, 2013

When Adventure's Lost Its Meaning





When Adventure's Lost Its Meaning


Keeping in touch with the youth, I found my granddaughter's copy of the lyrics to a song she loves.  
I do not know the name of the song...
A fellow blogger has commented that the author is Marta Keen Thompson

I know beauty when I read it.

It's odd to me that these lyrics appeal to both an 11 year old, and an old woman.  
To me these lyrics bespeak the homeward journey at the end of life.  
Perhaps to my little granddaughter these lyrics bespeak a secret heartthrob love, far away.

But maybe, just maybe, we all  have, in moments of deep sorrow or even deep reflection, been longing for "the homeward return, in time" ever since we arrived. Or maybe even on a particularly beautiful autumn day.











*************************
Image result for images of clear red sky

"In the quiet misty morning, when the moon has gone to 

bed,

When the sparrows stop their singing and the sky is clear 

and red,

When the summer's ceased its gleaming, when the corn is

 past its prime,

When adventure's lost its meaning, I'll be homeward bound 

in time.




Bind me not to the pasture. Chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I'll return to you somehow.


If you find it's me you're missing, if you're hoping I'll return,

To your thought I'll soon be list'ning; 

in the road I'll stop and turn.

Then the wind will set me racing as my journey nears its 

end,

And the path I'll be retracing when I'm homeward bound 

again.


Bind me not to the pasture. Chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I'll return to you somehow.


In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed."

                                        by Marta Keen Thompson

*****************




Feeling the change in the direction of the wind,

Riverwatch



















Monday, May 27, 2013

Reinventing One's Self

   

My daughter said I would like what her pastor had to say and she was correct.
I think you might like it also.
Riverwatch



A WHOLE NEW LIFE
A sermon delivered by the Rev. Scott Dalgarno on April 28, 2013
Wasatch Presbyterian Church
Salt Lake City, Utah
Based on Revelation 21:1-6

It has been said, “We neither get better or worse as we grow older, but more like ourselves.” (Robert Anthony)

Come September I will be teaching a class I’ve taught once here and many times elsewhere: I call it, Reading The Bible On It’s Own Terms. I never tire of teaching it, mostly because I find the Bible endlessly fascinating. It has something to say about absolutely everything. Last week I preached out of the gospel of John, a gospel that is all about the importance of believing. This week I 

want to begin by looking for a moment at the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. 

The writer of Ecclesiastes hardly believes in anything. In fact his 

(or her) treatise is about the lurking fear that life is just one accident following another – “Vanity of vanities,” he writes, “all is vanity.” We, all of us, have moments when we feel this way – like when we feel that an achievement from years ago seems now, if only for a moment, like so much chasing after the wind. 
“There is nothing new under the sun,” he says, cynically, not unlike
Shakespeare’s Macbeth who said, Life is “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” 
Life, for the writer of Ecclesiastes is just a great wheel with no 
beginning or end – nothing can really refresh it. 

Well, I’d like to address that notion this morning, and I want to do it by talking a little about something that has fallen on hard times since the crash of 2008. 

That thing is retirement. No, I’m not about to retire. Let me just say that and get it out of the way. I’m too young and I just found out how much my daughter owes on her college loans and I will be helping her pay that back for a very long time. And that’s fine. I can’t think of anything I’d be more happy to invest in. 

Now, I know a lot of people lost their nest-egg in 2008. 

A lot of people who thought that age 65 would mean they would be moving to sunnier climes are thinking again about that. They are putting it off, sometimes forever. 

The funny thing about the business of retirement is that it is only a recent development. 

It has only been a recent phenomenon that humans lived long 
enough to have the luxury of dropping out of the work force. 
It’s only been a short time that human beings could store up enough resources to make that a possibility. 

You know, the Bible speaks of old age as a blessing from God that some receive, 

but it knows nothing of retirement. 
The world was shocked to hear only a couple of months ago of Pope Benedict’s decision to retire. Papal historians quickly came out of the woodwork to let us know it happened before, 600 years ago. 

Let me tell you a bit about the first person I know of who was able to retire: 

Roman Emperor Diocletian retired on May 1, 305. 
He retired to the Yugoslavian coast city of Split and immediately began growing vegetables. 
He had been a phenomenally able emperor. He had declared himself a God, 
persecuted Christians and any one else he deemed an enemy of Rome. 
He unified the empire like few before him. 
What happened was that instead of appointing one emperor to succeed him, he appointed several “little Caesars” to reign here and there all over the empire. 
This led immediately to conflict, as each one wanted to be the single big cheese. 
In the midst of all the chaos, one of his old generals wrote him a letter asking him to take the field once again himself and unify the empire, bringing peace. 
And we have the text of what Diocletian said in response. 
He said, “If you could come here to Split and see these lovely cabbages I’ve grown with my own hands, you’d never ask such a thing.” 
A funny thing for a god to say, don’t you think?
Further, he said, he would never want to “replace the peace and happiness of this place with the storms of a never-satisfied greed."
Here was a man who had been the most powerful man on earth, who was more than content to give it all up and grow tomatoes and pumpkins. 
He had reinvented himself, and in doing so had found some joy in life. 

I am not particularly fond of the word retirement. It’s a cousin of other passive words like retreat, remove, regress. It sounds as if you just withdraw, settle down, settle back, tune out and hunker down. But we know that each new stage of living comes with its own set of challenges, demands, and sense of adventure. 


I know a fellow pastor who, in mid-career, began mentoring a younger one. 

The younger one, describing his congregation, said, “The median age of my congregation is over sixty, and you know how old people are.” 
My friend said, “No, how are they?” 
And the young fellow said, “You know, settled in their ways, slow to change, stuck in their ruts.” 
To which my friend, who’d recently done some study on this subject, said, “I don’t believe they are.” He had read and passed on to us information about how of the six or eight most traumatic changes in life, four or five of them will occur after 65. These folks have to deal with declining health, loss of independence, loss of mobility, loss of a spouse, unemployment. 

Far from stuck in a rut, sixty-five year olds are about to drown in some of the most dramatic changes life can offer. 


You know, when you’ve lost the person you’ve lived with for forty of more years, or you are forced out of your life’s work, the last thing you want is some upstart preacher saying, “Let’s do something new and innovative today.” You’re kind of sick of change and innovation. 

Yes, and it’s funny, but a lot of young people have the same impulse. Those who are out of college and yet not quite up to speed in the world of work and family often say to themselves, “I’m pretty confused and in flux now, but when I am 27 I will have decided who I want to be, who I want to do that alongside, and I will settle down, settle in and be fixed.” 

But life is seldom like that for anyone. 


There are just too many surprises. 


At Duke University they did a study of engineering graduates and found that only 30% of them were still in the engineering field just 20 years after. 30%. It’s even less in the ministry. 

I’m glad my daughter is going into nursing because the field is full of differing pathways. I know she will have opportunities to choose lots of new bi-ways if she get’s tired of any particular one. 

Sociologists tell us that people nowadays will, on average, go through seven job changes in a lifetime. 


An increasing number of educators are coming to speak of 

intelligence in terms of ability to adapt, as opposed to IQ. Why? Because life, for all of us, is a series of adaptations, moves, changes, beginnings and endings. 

I’m borrowing the title for this sermon this morning from the title of a memoir by the late Reynolds Price, A Whole New Life. It’s Price’s moving account of his struggle through cancer surgery, recovery, and beyond. As you might guess, Reynolds Price came, over years, to believe that his illness was, in fact, an invitation to a whole new life. But that took a lot of time. 

He tells how at first he denied his cancer; how he was filled with anger and resentment when he found out how sick he was; how he struggled in the pain laden months after his debilitating but life saving surgery. 
Here he was, once a robust man, active, athletic, at the prime of his life, the peak of his career, relegated to a wheelchair. But Reynolds depicts his path back from anger as a dawning realization that, in his words, “The old Reynolds has died.”
His old self, so many of he aspects of his former existence, were over. 
He could not get them back. 
Now, he could spend the rest of his life in grief over what he 
had lost, pitifully attempting to salvage some bits and pieces, OR he could choose to begin a new life. 
He chose the latter. He began all over again. It was not the life he might have chosen if he were able to choose, but it would prove to be a good life; a life very much worth living. 
In fact, he embarked upon the greatest period of artistic productivity of his life, turning out more novels, plays and poems than ever before, and better, too. 

“Find your way to be somebody else,” he advises; “the next viable you – a stripped-down whole other clear-eyed person; realistic as a sawed-off shotgun and thankful for air, not to speak of the human kindness you’ll meet if you get normal luck.” 


Now, retirement is rarely as traumatic as spinal cancer. Still, I think there are analogies. From what I have observed, the people who fail miserably at the challenges of the later years are those who fail to see retirement as a definite transition from one plane of existence to another. 

They attempt to salvage too much of their former life. 
I’m haunted by one story of a woman who had worked at a low wage job in a garment factory for over forty years. When she finally retired, her children thought she would be thrilled. She was miserable. She cried. Worse than that, she took to hanging around the gate of the factory many mornings, vainly hoping they would call her back to work. She even took an assumed name and tried to 
get hired, representing herself as some one else. That’s way too sad!
That just won’t work. Your old life goes on without you. Somehow they get by without you down at the plant, down at the office, down at the University. 
Whether you were stellar, or ho hum, it’s the same. They usually carry on just fine.

No, you can’t get your old life back. 
You need to lay your hands on a whole new life. 

Whether we have hope for retirement or not, all of us still need to find ways to prepare ourselves better for transitions that will come inevitably. 

If our only life is our work we are to be pitied, unless we can find some new life after work.
Maybe if we had some good rituals for retirement. In Japan, for example, there is a tradition in which, when a woman reaches retirement age, she takes all of her pots and pans and she presents them to her daughter or daughter-in-law. From then on she is expected to not enter the kitchen. That part of her life is over. A 
new one has begun. Some of you might want to try this at home. 
Many Japanese men begin retirement by dressing in a red kimono and doing something adventuresome that they have not done before, like climbing Mt. Fuji. 
I think that would be a very good idea. 
I know of an American man who, on the first morning of his retirement from an executive job came into the kitchen, looked into a cabinet and asked his wife— “Why do we need four cans of anchovies?”
She said she heard that and thought, “Oh, my God.”

My favorite part of the religion of Hinduism is just this sensitivity to the concept of retirement. It is key for Hinduism. Here’s why. The Hindus have this wonderful concept of dharma. Dharma means doing the appropriate thing – a thing appropriate to who you are and what stage of your life you are currently in. 


When you are four years old you are expected to play and dance and sing, and get comfortable in your body. 

When you are of school age, you are expected to participate in sports and exercise your mind to its fullest. 
Once you leave school, you are expected to engage yourself fully in the world of work and you are to engage yourself in a marriage, have children, make friends, make money. You delight yourself in the physical pleasures available to you, 
and you enjoy the possessions you acquire. 

Then . . . when your children begin having children, you enter a time of transition. 

You are expected, at that time, to become what they call a Forest-Dweller. 
A Forest-Dweller is someone, man or woman, who, having plumbed the worlds of work and family to their depths, now pulls back and focuses on the more spiritual aspects of life. 
That person is expected to leave the town he or she has worked 
and lived in. Moving somewhere else where you have no prior associations, frees you to focus on your inward being. You may paint, or play music or do any number of things to develop your spirit. 
And you take as much time as you need or can afford, living very simply. 
The Hindu has the prerogative of doing this with a spouse or on ones own, but it is open to both men and women. 
Christians, like Hindus, do not believe that history is a meaningless cycle going nowhere, one dang thing after another. 
We believe that God is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. 
God not only gets us going at the beginning, 
God also meets us at the end. 
More to the point of the challenges of retirement, 
God gives fresh beginnings along the way; new days, new lives. 

The Bible opens with Genesis’s declaration, “Let there be light,” as a new world comes into being, 

and it closes with a word we use in today’s scripture text from Revelation, “Behold, I make all things new!” 
All along the way there is transition after transition. 
Those transitions are not accidental. They are a crucial part of our lives. 
Because, you know, people don’t burn out from working too hard, or working too many hours -- they burn out from having work to do that is meaningless. They burn out when they have no more mountains to climb. People can go on and on and on as long as they taking a fresh look at life, as long as they keep finding 
new things to do or new ways to do what they have long found to be meaningful.
At 80, George Burns won an Oscar, and Marc Chagall created sets and costumes for the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Mozart’s Magic Flute.
At 81, Benjamin Franklin helped frame the Constitution, and Winston Churchill started his History of the English-Speaking People. 
At 88, Pablo Casals was performing his cello. At 89, Albert Schweitzer was doctoring. And at 90, Picasso, always a volcano, was far from extinct. 

It’s never too late to remake your life.


Remember Reynolds Price’s encouragement:
“Find your way to be somebody else,” he advises; “the next viable you – a stripped-down whole other clear-eyed person; realistic as a sawed-off shotgun and thankful for air, not to speak of the human kindness you’ll meet if you get normal luck.” 

Amen

                              email:               sdalgarno@wpcslc.org