I am writing this on the first day of my 74th year and as I do every year, I am philosophically looking back to where I have come from and looking forward to making my final years the best they can be. That is what this post is going to be about.
I was a dreamy kid. You could find me frequently lying on the lawn at night staring up at the seemingly endless stars dreaming about what my life would be about. This was a constant theme for me throughout my life. I philosophically imagine where I would be and what I would be doing ten, twenty, or even thirty years in the future. I still look forward but only to the next decade now.
Little did I imagine that this starlight dreaming would be a regular thing throughout my life. As a teenager I added wondering what I would accomplish, and where I fit in the world to the list. Due to my Aspie traits I had a hard time with this task. My dreams were not grandiose. I never thought I would cure cancer or invent a perpetual motion machine, but I did dream of doing some pretty great things. I read ferociously in my youth so part of those dreams was to be the next Steinbeck or London.
One of the major problems with my dreams was that I rarely made up an action plan to actually accomplish them, so most often they were never realized. It took years before I had the gumption to see that I had verbose dreams but not the self-esteem to do anything about them. I just seemed to let life fritter away a day at a time.
Don’t get me wrong, I had successes in life but never to the level I dreamed. One of my most proud moments was when I alone stood up against a corporate monolith and demanded that they institute a design change I had made in a product so as not to have it cause a home fire and possible resulting death. My bosses did not see the need to add four cents to the cost of the product to keep that from even being a possibility. Some other things during my corporate life that gave me great satisfaction was designing aids for those with debilitating handicaps.
Looking back, the most joyous and fulfilling time of my life occurred after I retired from the corporate world. Although I didn’t make much money I thoroughly enjoyed designing and building furniture and wooden toys for customers throughout the Midwest. But the epitome of joyous accomplishments came during the eleven years that I volunteered at a soup kitchen/ homeless shelter. Due to old compression back fractures it was a challenge to stand on a concrete floor that long but I would do it again without even thinking about it.
Let me close out this post with some lessons learned from those seven decades on this earth:
- Back up Your Dreams With Plans – Dreaming of possibilities is a good thing but if they are only dreams then nothing is accomplished. Do Something About Them.
- Don’t Give Into Doubts – Self-confidence came much too late in my life. I spent half of my life thinking that I was just not intelligent enough, rich enough, or even capable of fulfilling my dreams. There was always an excuse for not really trying.
- Be Daring – Don’t let others put you in a confining box. Think for yourself.
- Be Involved – If you don’t like how something is presently playing out, do what it takes to change it. I recently read that if people between 18 – 29 voted they could radically change almost everything that many of them see is wrong with our country. Why do they sit on the sidelines when they have such radical power?