You can retire now, and you don't need a list of things to do or a new hobby. You don't have to wait for grandchildren, need a golf course nearby, or make a map full of places to visit. You can retire without meetings to attend, workshops to take, and dates to fill Friday and Saturday night. You can retire and not spend your retirement on the Internet, glued to your desk, or trying to be forever 40 years old. You can retire without a full calendar. You can have no calendar and be perfectly satisfied. You can retire and not spend your life being entertained. You can turn off the television and be free. You can retire, and you don't have to be productive. You don't have to be doing anything. There are other priorities than working and trying to conquer this feeling that there will never be enough. There are satisfactions other than a pay check, being important in your company, or being always the provider. There is another identity. You can retire and simply be happy, inspired, and full of the joy of life.
The question is not really what will I do, but who will I be? There is another you then rushing through the day, meeting obligations, or getting by. There is another way than living on edge, afraid of tomorrow's news. There is another drummer to listen to. You can retire exactly as you are. There is only one thing you need. The most important thing for retirement is not having enough security but having enough you.
In other words, to retire we need a big interior life. We can have everything in life, all that we ever wanted, but everything is not really everything without having our wholeness, our spiritual being, our life growing out of the true soil of our heart. Life is more than acquiring comforts. We can live deeply in the source of life itself. Inside each of us is our inner well of being. This is the source of perfect joy, the joy not dependent upon success or wealth. Our real abundance is our inner abundance. Life's treasure is finding the inner treasure in the depths of the silence in our heart. The treasures of the heart are found most directly when we take time away from the busyness of life. We give our attention to the vastness within. This is the time of retirement. The joy of being present, the silence of now embraces our inner resources and beauty.
It is never too early or too late to develop a big inner life. The school of inner life unfortunately is not found in universities or community colleges but within the still heart, the divine wisdom in each of us. The tools of a rich inner life are not found in intellectual discussions but in the many realms of our inner sanctuary. In silent retreat, we can get to know this sanctuary. We want to make friends with ourselves, both our humanness and our sacredness. Retiring is also retiring from the struggle. How much have we punished ourselves and others for being human and imperfect? We let go. We move on. We will never be perfect. We are each beautifully, humanly, divine.
We want to make friends with every part of us, every thought, and every feeling. Friendship is not complicated. Our judgments separate us, push others away. Our acceptance and enjoyment brings us together. Intimacy is enjoying our differences, each our own uniqueness. Every part of life, every relationship is an opportunity. We want to make friends with solitude. We want to enjoy spending time in the silence of the day and the quiet of the night. We want to learn to meditate, so our awareness is not full of thoughts but full of naked life, pure, and glorious.
Awareness is our new path, goal, our all and everything. There is so much to be aware of. We are retired, which means our minds are not busy with everything to do. We are finding everything to be instead. We are retired, so we are not preoccupied with our personal story of how much, how big, how soon but how much wonder is in this moment? Retirement is following the sacred journey of unfolding the vastness of our own creative spirit, trusting our hands to touch the altar within us, within life itself.
When people ask, "What are you doing?" You tell them you are growing a garden. There is a garden of life. It comes in many forms. It can be growing fruit trees, singing folk songs, giving food to people who are living on the streets homeless. What is important about this garden is that there are no bugs or gophers to worry about eating the flowers. This is our inner garden. We are on retreat. We cannot wait to get up every morning. Every day, nature is smiling. There is so much to be. The present is always happening! We enjoy watching birds in flight. They remind us to look inside and see the vast sky in our heart. This is not poetry but the fruit of meditation. This fruit and much more is available for everyone who takes the time to grow an inner garden, including meditation and listening to each our own calling, the longing that has never stopped longing.
As the Eskimos have 30 words for ice and snow, there are dozens of words for awareness, awareness set free in retirement. Innocence, humility, reverence, imagination, forgiveness, freedom, gentleness, goodness are just some of what fills our awareness when unleashed from our old life. Retirement can be wholeness, generosity, humor, tenderness, surrender, and love. These qualities gather body and soul in the stillness within. Simplicity, patience, compassion, gratitude are guides, intentions, our God qualities opening inside of us. Dignity, passion, peace, and play, we are becoming who we really are. The list goes on and on as we uncover the great cathedral in the silence of our heart. As we retire from the daily load we routinely carried in the past, our awareness is free, finding true understanding, its original light. There is so much light. To retire is to live a lightness of being. We can retire now, lead a sacred life, and find true joy.
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