A lone cowboy dons a black Stetson as he ambles along Acequia Madre straddled upon an equine taxi. It's Sunday and Santa Fe smiles with its azure ceiling, cottony clouds and shadows of the Sangre de Christos. He tips his hat and I respond with an open but not quite toothy smile. All is well. I'm a one-month-old retiree boomer hanging out for now in the "City Different." For twenty-eight years I shackled myself to someone else's payroll, product, "strategic plan" and timetable. Don't get me wrong; I loved my career and most folks I met along the way. I learned a lot, traveled, gave a lot and am fortunate enough to live, at least temporarily, among ancient adobes, dried hot chilies, yogis and "people of color" -- though African Americans, my tribe, account for less than 1% of the population and just yesterday as I approached my front gate, an African American gentleman driving a white van came to a full stop to ask, "do you live here?" When I responded "yes," he gave his business card exclaiming, "there aren't that many of us around here so I had to stop!"
As a lawyer and former executive this is all very new even though I've come to Santa Fe off and on for 11 years. At first, I came because it was cooler than Austin in summers, my home then. After returning to Seattle, I came mostly for sun and I've always loved Santa Fe's art scene. Before though, I'd stay no more than 2 weeks and now, rather than on my iPhone, I'm focused on Hatha Yoga, the mysterious (to me) Friends Meeting House around the corner and fingerpicking on my guitar. It's a training process though. My hand and brain still respond like Pavlov's dog to any ring or text message as if a second passed is a dollar lost or a client deciding I'm not responsive. And, I still spend too much time on Facebook, LinkedIn and other flavors of social media. I've never been here -- retired -- so I'm making up my own rules, or lack of them, as I go along. I get up when ready, try not to plan too much and remember to just breathe. It helps not being in Seattle. There, too many people, commitments, and smells of a life left might make this important transition seem less complete. No worries though. Seattle is and seems far away, helped along by the drive through places like Pendleton, OR and Moab, UT to get here. And my present surroundings - yellow earth, endless sky and vegan sensibility -- fuel an enchanting sense of the possible.
Like being in a ravine though before climbing up and peering over to the other side, I have no idea what happens next or where Santa Fe will take me. Like many boomers, I suspect, there are things I used to do with passion that I miss. As a young person I wrote music and performed it. Over the past several years, inch by inch, I've reacquainted myself with that younger and more vulnerable me through taking a year-long songwriting class, forming a rock band and even producing my first CD.
Now though, will I throw myself into music full-time or will a thirst for titles or paycheck propel me to recreate or simply reshape parts of the corporate life I just left behind? If so, will I be the CEO this time or again be a "support function?" Will I give back more to my communities or create new ones? Will I finally see Antarctica or return to Botswana? Will I finally read "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"? Will I get bored or will life's next chapters overwhelm me? Will I have a new or different relationship with God? Will I stay healthy and be wise enough to love big and live bigger? Will I be loved more... or less? How will I embrace inevitable loss and navigate life's given ramps to rebirth? Right now, I don't know answers to these questions and many others elude like moths alighting from a bush at dusk.
In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi wrote, "The heart's earnest and pure desire is always fulfilled." A week before I retired, a successful serial entrepreneur cornered me at a dinner party and whispered in my ear, "don't look back... not even for a second." His encouraging words still ring and perhaps for this reason, even though my boomer heart beats and middle-aged eye blinks tentatively at times, mostly I lean forward with a joy worthy of this moment's sweet uncertainty and move brick by brick towards a future that hopefully leads to a life well lived and thus fulfilled.
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