Our grandparents and parents are long since gone, and it’s comforting to know I have him in my life. While we’ve lived at least an hour from each other since the late ’70s, and at times not even in the same state, seeing each other even monthly hasn’t really been the case. But despite this, we’ve always been connected and in tune with how each other is doing.
This is one of those times where we are in different states and hours apart. But it’s also a time when we’ve been having very substantive phone conversations with each other. You see, both of us are experiencing life changes. Me, with a new home in the greater Charlotte, NC area, and concentrating more on my writing, and my brother, after some 45 years of working, being on the verge of retirement. This will be his last Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve, of employment. He will begin the new year and a new decade in retirement.
Admittedly, this for anyone is a bit of relief, but also offers a bit of trepidation. No more being on someone else’s schedule, in his case - no more hunting down new business, or dealing with rush hour traffic. But those good thoughts can be laced with - did I save enough, can I keep myself occupied, and will I be happy? A decision as big as retirement doesn’t come easy, but at least in his case, it has come freely. Freedom to even make such a decision does not come to all, so heaping handfuls of gratitude should be sweetly clutched. But the reality remains, now you have the rest of your life to be happy, and defining happiness can be a job within itself for some.
As day to day human beings, we somehow easily find unhappiness, or it finds us. It’s a fact that for some, maintaining happiness must be worked on no differently than weight loss, or any other form of life management. It’s not enough just to say we are happy, we often need to prove it to ourselves and flail about trying to do it. There are many ways to go in search of how well off you are compared to the realities of many others. It’s a bold trip and courageous trip to take too! This time of the year is actually a great time to do so by assisting your fellow man, woman, and child. Trust that the love you bring to them, they will bring to you in return in spades.
For my brother and others like him, precious time must not simply go wasted in a pattern of tic-tock, tic-tock. You do not want your life and world to become smaller. You must use your time to broaden yourself and feel the fruits of your labor through the freedom of exciting mental journeys! Now is such a great time to allow creativity from yourself or others to capture your attention and magically and mindfully allow it to grow. Remembering that what you did is not who you are. Yes, what you did for however long, is part of your life experience, but it is now in your past and it must no longer steer you. Some will place too much value on the past and think there is no room or point in growing. If this is even remotely you, break free from this thought as it will only imprison you.
Luckily for my brother, he has late in life found and returned to his early creative joy of photography. I could write for many more hours why he should have never stopped, but I will say this; creative starvation is unwanted baggage in the lives of many. For some reason, the burden of day-to-day responsibilities has a way of robbing us of the very things we need to create happiness. In other words, we cast away or suppress the very things which make our working lives fun or even bearable for some. Hopefully, these burning embers of joy can be found again. In my brother’s case, the embers are glowing. As his artist brother, and someone who has offered this philosophy to many, I could not be happier. A creative appetite is healthy and we all should learn to savor each and every bite and experience the true freedom creativity brings.
Live an artful life,
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