You can’t stop time – or even pause it. The sand flows through the hourglass unconstrained, taunting. As each grain falls, I hear a nearly imperceptible ping. Reality is calling. I need a plan – just one plan. My problem is, I have a bevy of plans….
- Join the Peace Corps
- Buy a fixer upper in Ireland
- Bike from Gdansk to Budapest
- Hike across England along Hadrian’s Wall
- Live in Macedonia or Albania or Montenegro
- Immerse myself in French and, of course, in Paris
- Crisscross the United States living out of my car
- Hole up in Slovakia to write the great American novel
- Return home, settle down, and grow old gracefully
My son, Ryan, once said I had too many “crazy ideas” – many of which never came to fruition. It’s a point well taken. Lots of my ideas never bore fruit. “Don’t get me wrong mom. Those things you did pull off were awesome.” They included:
- Live in Ireland one homeless summer between North Carolina and Colorado
- Take a 2 month road trip: Husband Pat, 10 year old Ryan, 11 year old friend, 5 year old Taylor (I delegated this. Three kids, one man, 10,000 miles, and one smart wife)
- Move to Colorado, learn to ski
- Live in Europe (perhaps not Slovakia – but it turned out well)
- Visit all 50 of the United States (finished in tiny, elusive Rhode Island)
Quit my job to follow a girl to Philly(sorry, Ryan, wrong list. That one’s yours)
Perhaps I need to cull my list (but let’s be honest, I won’t) or at least prioritize (I’ll try). Biking and hiking will be physically demanding, requiring every drop of stamina I can muster. These are “now or never” items. I can drive across the United States in my dotage. Great idea, but it can wait. Living in Ireland fulfills Pat’s need for a nest and provides a home base to access Europe – eastern and otherwise. I’ll shift that up. Paris will always be there, thank goodness. This idea is my personal favorite. My brain flits through options like a whirling dervish – a never ending twitter feed of hair brain schemes.
This September we will be back in the United States. I will buy the smallest and lightest notebook computer I can find – one which slips into my backpack virtually unnoticed. A computer which is nimble enough to bike across Europe, live in far flung places, email letters home from a Peace Corps outpost. It will be part talisman, part catalyst, part confident and the keeper of the list – shinny and silver and unconditionally supportive.
All this brings me back to the reason I started this blog. It wasn’t to capture trip reports or to reflect on life lessons from abroad. Both have been unexpected gifts – but neither the original intent. My goal is simple, to explore non-conventional retirement options and to share the results. That is the “world in between”.
It’s a fool’s errand to some and disinteresting to others. Many of my friends are wallowing in their personal definition of retirement bliss. Conventional or otherwise, I am happy for them. Their list is, as it should be, their list. A beating wanderlust heart crafted my list. And as those last grains of sand drip through the hourglass, I will be scribbling new ideas. I’m okay with that. There is no shame in crazy dreams – even those left unfulfilled.