aging · Mexico · retirement · San Miguel de Allende · stress

Learning Not to Do

Doing nothing is stressful.

Guilt accosts idleness. Nervousness infringes on slow. Inaction breeds shame.

I carried those feelings throughout my life and they remained in my retirement mind, cluttering the new reality that aging introduces.

I grew up knowing there was one path on life’s road and it was marked ‘fast’: work hard, stay busy, work harder, and stay busier. Get to your destination then embark on another trek to an unconquered peak without delay. Those were the marching orders if one wanted to be valued, and who didn’t crave admiration?

My life focused on moving, accomplishing, pushing at a breakneck pace. No time to stop and contemplate. Keep doing.

I loved my life. I liked working. I relished new adventures. I discovered what I did well, and what to avoid. I tried and failed. I attempted and succeeded, often on the same day.

I cultivated me, learning what inspired me, testing my limits, enjoying my abundant energy and enthusiasm. Whether I was starting a business, learning to cook for 4 teenagers, caring for aging parents, and/or joining non-profit boards, I kicked up dust in my endless scurrying.

If we are lucky, we grow older, and longevity brings new realities, desires, and restrictions. What we wanted to accomplish at 30 holds little interest for us at 70. What we conquered at 40, leaves us whimpering at 80.

Mastering the change between full throttle ahead and dwindling motivation is a full-time job. It’s hard work to toss aside old beliefs and unload the self-reproach of inactivity.

But then I discovered San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where life moves like thick honey being poured from a jar: steady and at its own pace minus effort.

Old ideas regaling the benefits of speed and accomplishments swirled down the drain of importance as I began mimicking the life style of the Mexican culture. Watching children run and play as parents chat with friends in a tree-shaded park was relaxing, though initially unsettling. Strolling over cobbled stone streets for an ice cream cone could be the highlight of my day. Purchasing flowers from a street vendor elevated my mood.

It t’weren’t easy teaching my 75-year-old legs to meander rather than run, but after studious practice, I’m nearing expert status in the art of idleness.

Doing nothing is stressful, but you get over it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 thoughts on “Learning Not to Do

  1. Such a lovely piece, once again. I was just like you, running full out for so long. It wasn’t until I retired that I refuted so much of that running, despite the thrill, and learned to appreciate the quiet reward of meandering. And oh, the beck and call of San Miguel de Allende…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like you are “feeling groovy”. Remember that song? It was good advise when we were 20 and it is even better advise at 70. I am so happy that you are heading it.

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  3. Well done! Nice images, specially the honey.

    From: that little voice Reply-To: that little voice Date: Monday, March 5, 2018 at 1:26 AM To: Paula James Subject: [New post] Learning Not to Do

    WordPress.com that little voice posted: “Doing nothing is stressful. Guilt accosts idleness. Nervousness infringes on slow. Inaction breeds shame. I carried those feelings throughout my life and they remained in my retirement mind, cluttering the new reality that aging introduces. I gre”

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  4. I love your post. It’s totally relatable. When I was high school, all I heard was study hard, Work hard day and night. I feel like if we live by that rule, when we reach our 40s or 60s, we realize that we forgot to actually live and enjoy our life. If we fail once, I think that’s okay. Get up and keep trying. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Be goofy and laugh whenever you can.

    Like

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