This year for the first time in 10 years, I'm taking a "staycation". It's not fun to know that I won't be traveling to somewhere awesome again this year, but there are two very good reasons for this decision. First, after 32 long years working for the City of Los Angeles, I will officially retire on July 23, 2016. I guess you might say that I am planning my permanent vacation. Whoo Hoo! Second, I have to train and save up for my Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, which might potentially take up to two months to complete. I just may even stay another month in Europe traveling around by backpack.
It's funny, but one of the adventures I've always dreamed about having since I was child was to go on a backpacking trip through Europe. This was something I didn't do because I had school, then work, and all the responsibilities and obligations that came with it. It was a dream that I never thought could ever come true. After (God willing) I finish my Camino, I hope to take my backpack, hop on a train or low cost flight and visit other parts of Europe for a few weeks. How cool would that be. Retirement and my Camino seems so far away, but I know that time will go by fast.
After announcing that I will be retiring next July, I have been asked this question so many times . . . . What will I do when I retire?
Most of the time I reply with my standard, I want to do more traveling, take fun classes, exercise, get healthy and do some home projects. However, lately I'm been thinking about this poignant scene from the movie, The Way, when Daniel (Emilio Esteves) and his father, Tom, discuss life. Daniel was on his way to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago. For over a thousand years, pilgrims have walked 500 miles from St. Jean De Port in France over the Pyrenees and across northern Spain to the City of Santiago de Compostela where the body of St. James, a disciple of Christ is entombed.
Daniel's father, in the movie and in real life (Martin Sheen), doesn't agree with his life style and tells his son that his life may not be much but it was the life he chose. Daniel responded and said, "Dad you don't choose a life, you live one."
It's been a very long road, this journey of mine. First my education, my career path and job were all choices I made in my life. It was the 9-5 job to pay the bills, it was the long commute day to get to and from my 9-5 job, it was the once a year big vacation trip (limited to 3 weeks), and it was the long 32 years working for one employer in order to earn my retirement allowance that would allow me to secure my future.
Lately, I am beginning to quickly realize just how short and precious life is becoming. I'm no longer that 20-year-old who had no worries about the future nor thought about ever getting old one day. But as you get older, your whole perspective about life changes. There is no rewind button, no going back and no do overs. This is it! No matter what path in life we may have chosen, we have to live for the here and now and follow our passions. We should not put things off for another day because that day may just never come.
My life has been filled with so many experiences and for the most part I've lived a good life. I grew up with the best parents and sister, I have some really cool friends and worked with some very good co-workers and I've had the opportunity to travel to see some beautiful parts of the world. I think I've made the best choices that I could possibly make for myself and I am so appreciative and grateful for where I am today. But as I enter this new phase in my life, I'm ready to move on with a new perspective. Not working or aiming toward something, not taking the safe and predictable road and not planning for the future (well except for any travel trip planning that I have to do that is), because technically the present is the future. I want to really start to enjoy living in the moment and not worry about tomorrow.
So the next time someone asks me, what I plan on doing when I retire, my response will be short and sweet. I'll simply say . . . . "When I retire, I plan on living my life."