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Monday, 04 August 2014

The Best is Yet to Come

When we are in high school and college, most of us are eager to get on with “real life.” Whether our hopes are modest or grandiose, we anticipate, even daydream about the mark we are going to make on the world.

Soon enough, real life arrives and however many roadblocks we encounter over the next few decades, however many adjustments we make to our goals, we generally believe things will get better. Or, at least, I always did.

I don't remember not having an innate sense of expectancy – the feeling that something new, be it large and life-changing or small but delightful – would happen soon. As often as not it did and even when it was not on the delightful side of the ledger, it was never boring.

Then, ten years ago, as over several months I came to understand that I really would not get another job, that no one would hire me again, it faded away.

I didn't feel it happening to me, that loss. I recognize that it died back then only in retrospect and all I can compare it to is a cat named Beau who lived with me for 19 years. Until the last few weeks of his life, he woke every day as if it were the cat equivalent of Christmas morning. His joy at greeting the dawn was limitless.

That's the feeling I lost even if mine was not quite as exuberant as Beau's. The universe regularly surprised me and it was something good often enough that I never stopped looking forward to the next one.

Until I didn't anymore.

I recalled all this when, recently, these words came to mind: “the best is yet to come.” Those exact words, as I stood washing dishes one evening, popped to mind from nowhere and it felt like a homecoming.

My old friend of so many years, that sense of expectation, had returned and until it did – or, until I realized it had – I hadn't noticed how lonely I'd been for it.

Since then, I have thought about how crazy it is at age 73 to feel the same way about the future as I did at 20 and 30, 40 and even 50. But there it is, as comfortable as an old shoe and I trust it as much as I did for the first 60 years I had it.

Or am I delusional?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joyce Benedict: The Amazing X Factor


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

i lost that "feeling" at 66 years of age. It happened three and a half years ago when my husband died.

I have been waiting for it to come back and wondered if it ever would and now you have given me hope.

But you are are right---it is a very lonely wait.

I lost that feeling quite a few times in my adult life...when I was left as a single mother after a divorce, when my daughter died at age 23, when a natural disaster took away my home, job and friendships of 33 years, and just recently as I face an uncertain future. But, like you, the other day I felt renewed sense of well being for some unknown reason, almost like someone was telling me, everything's going to be OK. And I drew a deep breath. On I go!

I think for you maybe it is because your spirit can now sense how important the new chapter of your life that you opened has become?

It is opening up opportunities and excitement and joy and satisfaction?

I have yet to suffer real tragedy, just the expected losses of parents, siblings and friends. I don't think in terms of the best is yet to come, but rather like to think that the best is right now. Perhaps we don't even recognize the best until it is behind us and we may see it in the rear view mirror.

It's all about having a sense of purpose. A feeling that you CAN still make a difference. I know that my life will never be the same, and I just have to look around me here at the ALF to see my future. However, I have resigned myself not to just waste away or fade into the furniture. I have decided to plunge head first into whatever fate has in store for me, and I will do it screaming all the way.

I feel joy for you Ronni. Whatever the process, whatever corner has been turned, embrace it.

I don't think you're delusional. I think you have chosen to live a purposeful life and to devote your energies to making a difference. I also think you are valued and appreciated and that contributes to your feelings too. So intentional, yes. Delusional, no.

Isn't one of the myths you're trying to combat here that past a certain age, people are just parked in their bodies, unable to contribute, just, in essence, waiting to die? It's not delusional so long as you don't have unrealistic ideas about your life expectancy. Even with illness and physical decline, the notion that the best is only behind you is debilitating at any age.

So happy for you, Ronni! I just returned from a week in the Pacific Northwest spent with old friends as part of our 50th Holy Names Academy Reunion and sensed this attitude in many of us.

Also, that sense of contentment with our lives, with daily routines and interactions, with serving others in some way, that you have described before.

The only thing that shakes my composure is watching the news - but I do it anyway because I am responsible, too, and need to make decisions based on what's going on.

I only really enjoyed a few of the many jobs I had through the years. As I approached retirement I had that feeling of anticipation return because I had already discovered the satisfaction of volunteering, and I knew that finally I would be free to pursue those activities which made me feel fulfilled.

I think learning to be satisfied with and enjoying TODAY, whatever it is, is a great achievement. For many years, I lived for the future. I love the way I feel now.

I don't have any explanation about from whence this comes, but life is full of mystery, amazement and grace. Carpe diem!

At 90 I still have that feeling because I'm no longer serving time at jobs I didn't care for, My time is my own. Delicious feeling.

You have finally settled in as have many of us. Hugs.

I admire Charlotte for still feeling that the best is yet to come.

I have to confess, I lost that feeling when my body started failing me and I could no longer do much of anything that I used to do. I am just trying to keep it all together and hope that the worst is not "yet to come".

I don't want to imply that I have stopped hoping, and even expecting, that good things will come. Sometimes they do. That is always a delightful surprise.

"Hope springs eternal" and I, too, have felt its ebb and flow. Anxiety disorder had me in its grip for five years just after retirement from a long and destructive (from administrators) educational career, but art classes, volunteering at my Humane Society and new friendships helped me--and some good medications I still use.

Glad to hear our fearless blogger feels better, too, and Ronni's essays always give us hope! Hooray! And I just discovered when I go in through FB, I can see all the comments!

PS to Ronni: I finally answered your nice note via the 'loneliness' post & told ya I'll be up in PDX area about the tenth...did you see it? Will call just before....~Kathi

As usual, we seem to be walking along the same path, which is why I love to read your blog. At 68, I came to the same realization as you that I wasn't going to be hired again. So I turned my energies to other work. Since then, I've edited memoirs, ghostwritten one, and am translating another. Now, at 71, I'm on the verge of publishing a riches to rags and back memoir, have another in the wings, and have almost finished reworking the first book in a historical trilogy written 20 years ago. Like you, I'm on the cusp of a whole new adventure, and in a real hurry because of time limitations. There's a lot ahead if only my body will hold out.

That's great, Ronni, and I'm so happy for you. Personally, I'm O.K. with where I am now, although as I creep closer to 78, I don't have a lot of illusions about the future. I realize how fortunate I am to still have my wonderful husband (84), a part-time job I like (at least until the end of this year) and a volunteer gig I enjoy. Most of all, I'm basically healthy, although it's a nuisance not being able to do things I used to do with ease. Keeping it real, however, I can't honestly say I feel that "the best is yet to come".

"If you keep a green bough in your heart, the singing bird will come."

Ronni, something tells me you're in for something good.

Big hug from Montreal.

Fascinating blog. I've felt the same way and wondered whether it's normal at my age (79) or whether I'm very mildly depressed. Still can't decide. Thanks for bringing it up.

As I walked out of the Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth, TX yesterday afternoon after enjoying the delightful movie,"Boyhood", beauty surrounded me...trees, museums, people walking and talking...I felt so grateful for my new home only about two miles away. As I sit on my fourth floor balcony overlooking the Trinity River, branches of green trees surround me. Being almost 73, I have the opportunity and time enjoy and contemplate the many wonders that surround me. Most everyday has the potential to be the BEST day and I welcome the opportunity to enjoy each day as it unfolds.

So happy Ronni's found the joy of anticipation again.

Acceptance of what was and will never be again but anticipation of what is to come. That's how I describe it.

When I left teaching, I had no intention of no longer working. I was just going to change careers. I had skills that I knew could be very valuable, but alas, no one else seemed to grasp this. It took me a couple of years to realize NO ONE was going to hire a retired school teacher even if she did have a degree in marketing and lots of experience in customer service, event planning, and the like.

Now that I've settled into retirement, I am thoroughly enjoying my days and anticipating the next adventure of my own choosing.

Just enjoyed a couple of well-made martinis, and at age 78 can't believe good things don't lie ahead.

In my mind, "the best of times is now." I've always enjoyed the simple things in life - little things made me happy and now things have changes - now - the very little things make me happy.

It doesn't take much to put a smile on my face or laugh about something.

For example - that strawberry cheesecake ice cream was heaven! ;-)

As a young person I did not feel the way you did. I felt that everything was a potential problem that must be adverted. That led to a successful career as a Contingency Planner.
When I realized that no one would hire me it was like a dash of cold water in the face.
Since then I have worked through the usual feelings of identity and worthlessness and emerged on the other end with a huge sense of anticipation of the "Next Best Thing." Retirement has been wonderful!
I might get better than it is now and I am finally feeling "Bring it on!" without the fear I felt before.
I am so glad to hear that your sense of the anticipation of fun/better has returned. It is a great feeling.

I always told my self 'these are the Good old days but we just don't know it yet'. Live each day like it's 'The Good Old days'. I m frusterated with physical limitaions, but things are good.
Am so sorry to hear of Beaus passing. He may be at the Rainbow Bridge waiting for you?
I love your Blog.

My husband, who was a great companion but also difficult, traumatized, and possessive, and then ill for a decade, died 3 1/2 years ago. A mantra I use when I get depressed because I don't matter in a primary way to anyone (no kids) is, "The world is mine." That's not to say it isn't everybody else's, too; but it's mine, too -- all mine. Direct and unmediated. I'm having trouble driving that home to myself, but at the moments when I "get" it, I'm thrilled. I'm 68, still healthy and fit, but not kidding myself -- extremely aware that I don't have that much longer to be that way. I've got to figure out how to use it, soon.

Whatever, however, I'm glad to hear this. You deserve it.

Thanks for this. I realized the other day that I'm expecting to get Alzheimer's...my Mom died of it, making my odds six times higher than others who don't have a parent with it. That day, I thought, "Maybe I won't get it." Amazing what a difference it made.

After a life-threatening incident, I found myself greeting each morning with a sense of expectation and joy. "The sun came up and I was here to see it; by definition, it's a good day," became my mantra. That translated to a renewed sense of purpose, the creation of a not-for-profit, many more connections and opportunities and adventures.

I don't recommend getting shot as a way to become hopeful, but it worked for me.

This post has made me think long about why I enjoy life and why I look forward to each day. I realized that what was not connecting with me was the phrase "the best is yet to come". As I look back over my life I'm not sure what I would consider "the best". The obvious contenders are numerous but the less obvious ones like -- seeing a bird from an interesting vantage point, watching a child 's enjoyment, feeling the breeze beside the ocean as I watched a beautiful sunset-- are even more numerous and occur daily--but only when I am "present" enough to notice them. So I think that, for me, a more accurate way to look at this is that there are many wonderful experiences still waiting for me everyday and knowing that makes me look forward to the remainder of my life. I hope I will remember this every day so that when the tragedies that I know are coming happen I can still enjoy the wonderful moments life presents.

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