Daughter R’s car is on a transport ship to Kauai as of yesterday afternoon. It’s not so old and rusty that it can’t find a new life in paradise. The misses delivered it to the Oakland shipping terminal. Daughter R should be receiving it within two weeks, where it will take on the duty of hauling surfboards to the beach and climbing wet mountain sides to camping sites in the tropical jungle. I called the original owner of this car, a friend of mine, and told him where it is being shipped. He thought it ironic that he had hoped to one day retire in Hawaii and now his car is going there without him while he continues working. For him it was a work car, and is now to become more of a car for enjoyment. Oh well, more than one person has told me that retiring in Hawaii is not as a grand as it sounds. For a year or so it is nice, then a sense of isolation settles in, plus the constant flow of unsettled people traipsing through the islands, leaves some with a feeling of not quite being at home and in a state of restfulness. Maybe I will get the chance to experiment with a year of Hawaiian restlessness!
For the moment I continue hammering at a keyboard to produce technical information. I look for some reason or purpose in the activity, but primarily it is to produce an income and boost a savings account, until a time soon comes when it feels appropriate for me to retire. The date of my departure may be only a few months off. Many tell me they will never stop working, that the challenge of keeping up with the younger people is what keeps them alive. Others tell me just the opposite, that they feel they must get out of the work scene as early in life as possible. I am somewhere between the two arguments, not finding work to be particularly a source of joy, but more one of drudgery. Having too much time and not enough money also sounds tedious.
My interior clock tells me life grows shorter, that I must do what seems important while I have some time and energy. That is my natural response to observing myself grow older. I also sense a spiritual or soulful self that is not concerned with either the passage of time or the accomplishing of any tasks. My spiritual self gives life to my physical self, but when my physical self is gone, I believe, the spiritual self continues living. I feel more of an urge as I age to get better acquainted with the spiritual part of me. That is where I seem to find purpose, vision, energy, where I cultivate a great sense of joy about living, rather than an attitude of despair and the slowing dance of death. Others I’ve known would say that filling one’s mind and heart with spiritual things is the same as death to this world. I don’t see life that way. I see myself as both physical and spiritual in nature and see denying spirit as denying life. It’s easy for me to see that people about me are at all different levels of awareness and have a wide variety of ideas about their purpose in living, about what they value most in life. I feel like I have passed through all those levels and varieties myself.
I feel like I am beginning to slip into a sort of second childhood, but not because of any loss of reasoning ability. I’ve always heard that people, when they become older, tend to become childlike. Isn’t it said that we are supposed to become like children if we wish to receive divine wisdom? If I live long enough I will probably arrive at that second childhood quite naturally. I do not think of becoming childlike as a process of throwing off all my acquired learning and abandoning my reasoning abilities, but rather in making a change in how I perceive the world. Living again as if I were a child I would think of as having the same sort of zeal and interest that children have when they first become conscious of themselves. I remember when watching my daughters growing up, when young they had a constant exuberant flow in all they did and nearly everything they saw about them. They did not become bogged down with worry, fear, guilt, reticence to respond to life. They lived with a deep and abiding trust that their parents would shelter and protect them from harm.
I think of the idea of rebirth as being a return to childlike innocence. I enter the world in a state of innocence from a place that exists outside of time, but adjacent to time. A place where I live in innocence before I enter time and where I go to when I leave time. While living in the realm of time the influence of my childhood innocence never really leaves me. It’s like a tiny fire, a pilot light, that never goes out. As a child I grow into time, but the influence of innocence is always there in my subconsciousness. As I grow older and closer to a return to that special place of innocence, my subconsciousness becomes more aware of that return and seeks to become more childlike in its nature so that my re-entry into the world beyond time is not be so abrupt and painful. Death will have no sting. What might I be like if the child that is always in me, never forgotten, could come out and be a stronger influence in my day-to-day living as an adult? How do I let the child in me live?
Perhaps the qualities I might have would include a sense of well-being, spontaneous laughter and joy, never tiring of looking at the natural world, quick to forgive and forget, no grudges, no lengthy spells of anger, no brooding, expecting the best from others, unquestionable trust, understanding through intuition rather than intellect. I feel like the spiritual part of me would like to reinstate much of what I have lost during the tough adult years of duty, responsibility, and accountability to society and the world at large. When I look for models in our culture to admire, to lead me in keeping an active, childlike interior life, I don’t find much. It seems that others regard childhood as being childish, but to me the distinction is huge and worth the pursuit.