I didn't plan this as a New Year's Post, but after finishing it up, it seems to be a pretty good one for this day. Happy New Year, and blessing on your lives, my friends.
~ ~ ~ ~
Beauty of the Mountain is hidden for all those who try to discover it
from the top, supposing that, one way or an other, one can reach this
place directly. The Beauty of the Mountain reveals only to those who
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery -
~ ~ ~ ~
Much of my life has been spent in relative comfort. My family of origin was not wealthy; in fact, my parents often struggled to make ends meet. In spite of that, I don't remember feeling needy about anything. Oh, perhaps a few times when I wanted a toy that was out of budget, or a similar childish interprtation of life, but even that was relatively rare.
Most of my adult life I had most of what I wanted. In my early married days, there were quite a few times when I had to stretch my weekly dollars, but it always worked out. Later on I never thought of myself as being rich or even comfortable. But I was. I was fortunate to be able to travel, to drive good cars, to not have to worry about the bill when we ate out. It was nice to be able to treat friends and family to dinner or gifts.
After my husband died I assessed my IRAs and retirement accounts and found I was able to retire. I was set for the rest of my life to be comfortable as long as I didn't get silly with my spending. I could even travel moderately and generally continue my life pretty much as was usual.
And then you might guess what happened. The tanking of the affluent markets surprised us all.
I was able to salvage more of my investments than many people did, but it still hit me very hard. My life changed more than I can describe. Since that time, I've been known to wallow and whine. When that grew old, I found a job. Yes, at 66 I returned to the work force, and I've been glad I was able to find a job in the abysmal job market. And I often stretch to make ends meet now, even with that added income.
But here's the thing that has come about for me in this. I've realized that as much as I wish I could turn the clock back and preserve my life style as I'd come to know it, the lessons I've learned over recent few years are wonderful. As the quote above says, I slid down the mountain, and the rocky crags at the bottom of the slide were sharp, hard, and tore at me. But the climbing back up is a very good thing. Don't get me wrong, my financial situation isn't getting any better. But in my climb, I'm learning about things of a different nature.
- I've learned about my own spirituality
- I've learned that digging deep into my core is sometimes painful, but never disappointing
- I've learned about human nature
- I've learned about the values of people/friendship/relationships
- I've learned I'm stronger than I give myself credit
- I've learned that my inner peace goes deeper than I ever guessed
- I've learned my strength and creativity exceeds my expectations
- I've learned I need to be careful about exceeding those expectations, too
- I've learned about loneliness
- I've learned to be thoughtful about sharing my core
- I've been reminded that sunshine is the best medicine
- I've stretched out of my comfort zone in many ways
- I've come to appreciate that, while my health is typical of an aging person, life is still wondreful
The list might go on, but it's not necessary. The point is that my life has changed. A lot. For some it might seem it's for the worse, but I don't see it that way. I'm enjoying life treasures that can't be bought, and to be honest, having the "comforts" probably masked these gifts. I'm glad I have found insights for the more simple pleasures. I like what I'm finding wrapped around my essence. It is very good, and I'm pursuing more of it.
I still pray for more financial comfort, for sure. I don't like the feeling just before payday that says "what if [fill in the 'disaster']." But I hope I never lose the peace that I've gained from the process of learning just how solid I really am.
I'm glad I climbed the mountain and wasn't airlifted to the top.