Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ambassadors of the Obsolete

It’s has now been over seven years since we sold our "retirement home," bought an RV and began living in it full-time on the road. Many times during our sojourns, I have wondered what – if anything – we are doing of socially redeemable value. Are we serving any useful purpose in our retirement or are we just getting older, crankier, and more self-centered?

In the midst of these musings, one day it occurred to me that we are living, traveling examples of a lifestyle that has become obsolete. Perhaps we could consider ourselves "Roving Ambassadors of the ‘Good ‘Ole Days’."

The term "Good ‘Ole Days" means different things to different people, of course. However, it always includes enjoyment, a sense of satisfaction, peace and meaning in life lived at an unhurried pace.

We, too, in our working years, had spent many years in the stress-filled, over-committed, clock-controlled life of the modern era. We decided to retire, not only from our work, but also from the frantic pace in which our lives had been consumed. Retirement was the time to break free from the tyranny of time and the slavery to stuff.

Our migratory life in an RV helps us deal with both. We travel where we want to go, at a pace that is enjoyable, and stop at any points along the way that look interesting. We take time to:
  • admire the varieties of types and colors of wildflowers along our way
  • enjoy the songs of the birds that entertain us and try to learn the names of the singers
  • ponder the colors of the sunset (sunrises are beautiful, too, but they come too early!)
  • quietly observe a grazing mother deer and her fawn
  • reflect upon the sights and sounds of the sea coast
  • patiently watch the nest of a bald eagle family as two fledglings peeked over the edge (no doubt watching for their parents to bring them lunch!)
  • stand amazed at the power that created butterflies and boulders, mountains and Meadow Larks, the stars of the night sky and the cells of the human body
  • say "No" to responsibilities we don’t want to take on
  • walk together once or twice every day, giving thanks that we still can!
We also work carefully to free ourselves from an addiction to stuff. An RV has limited storage space, so shopping becomes an exercise in "How much can we do without?" and "If we buy it, where will we store it?" Answering those two questions really cuts our "wants" down to the size of our "needs." So, we’ve given up:
  • most of our dress clothes, but especially girdles, neckties and unnecessary underwear
  • buying "two for the price of one" bargains
  • fancy hair styles and make-up
  • many of our books in favor of lighter weight Kindle readers
  • listening or watching TV commercials for things or food
  • unnecessary furniture and breakable little "pretty things" to sit around and gather dust
  • a second set of dishes and silverware for "company"
  • saving old magazines, papers, boxes, or out-grown clothing
  • worrying about "what the neighbors (or anybody else!) will think."
This simplified lifestyle is not popular in magazine or newspaper ads or on TV commercials. But, for us, it’s like being on vacation year after year.  Better yet, it’s like having a seven year honeymoon! We enjoy life and give thanks for every day, every experience and every person we encounter along our way. So, perhaps as we travel, we can make a positive contribution to life by serving as roving ambassadors of the obsolete lifestyle of the slower and quieter past, the Good ‘Old Days.