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The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

The Meaning of Life

Posted by | April 13, 2015

It has been nearly two months since Linda Littlefield Grenfell, the Reserve's Environmental Educator, presented her Lunch 'n Learn entitled, "What Do I Want to Do Next?" It followed our tremendously successful Volunteer Fair, where community members gathered to learn more about the varied year-round volunteer opportunities available at the Reserve.

Linda Littlefield Grenfell

Linda's presentation was centered around retirement, aimed at providing useful tips for retirees. Two months later, I am still reflecting upon the content of her talk.

Despite my not thinking about retiring for at least another 25 years, I still gained so many nuggets of wisdom while listening to Linda--nuggets that can be applied to all stages of life:

  • To have a successful retirement, you need to lead a successful life.
  • The first 30 years of life are typically spent "figuring things out," the next 30 years in a career, and the last 25-30 years in retirement.
  • A successful life is about giving, and a wise elder gives back. The meaning of life is helping others, both human and non-human.
  • Ask yourself, "What kind of person do I want to be?" rather than, "What do I want to do?" In retirement, you have the resources and time to be the person you want to be.
  • In general, one in ten people are depressed, whereas 25 percent of retirees are depressed. Much of this depression stems from isolation and a lack of connection to community.
  • Be intentional regarding the community you want to be a part of. Be deliberate about creating community.
  • The key to retirement can be found by asking two questions:1) What is it that brings me joy? What is it that makes me feel, "I can't wait to do that!" 2) How can I help?

Before the end of her presentation, Linda shared a passage that I have long admired from Mary Oliver's "The Summer Day":

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

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