Remember that old song, Boomers? Here it is on YouTube if you’re feeling nostalgic.
My big sister and I sometimes smile that refrain to each other when we see a particular example of self-indulgence or nit-pickiness. The subtext is, Who has time for such foolishness?
I write about this today because of a column by Lynn Casteel Harper, a goodhearted woman, a chaplain in fact, who lives a mindful life. Lynn writes of her friend who, each year, apparently peruses his vocabulary in search of words to excise. What a luxurious life he must live, overflowing with time for excessive contemplation.
I live in a 55+ community with lots of retired peeps, so I have a front row seat for this phenomenon. Some of us, no longer running to jobs, have too much time on our hands and lose our perspective. We develop new bad habits of insularity, tribalism, and obsession with our own needs.
I don’t mean to be flip about folks who have worked hard for years and earned a chance to rest. God bless ’em. And who can say how a person should live his or her life? I guess what bugs me is the preoccupation with one’s own needs when there is so much good waiting to be done in our community. We’re so blessed, being retired, but it’s the way of the mind to get accustomed to any situation in which we spend a lot of time. So we nitpick the effectiveness or attitude of the housekeeper, or the degree of sparkling purity of the Olympic-sized pool.
Lately, I’m getting used to spending part of every day at the rehab hospital where my mom is laid up. At first it seemed like a place to avoid, but I’m getting to know the workers and patients, and where you can get coffee or fresh ice for a pack, and where the fresh towels are so I can wash Mom’s hair because the staff just can’t. I definitely do not have time to ponder which word I might next excise from my vocabulary.
I’ve been guilty from time to time of preoccupation with myself, but as soon as I have too much time on my hands, life tends to snap my head around and I end up chastened. I wrote about one such period here, and my conclusion after that experience was that next time I start doing too much navel-gazing, I’ll go volunteer in a rest home or something.