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Old 05-11-2015, 05:20 PM
 
Location: land of ahhhs
277 posts, read 298,635 times
Reputation: 489

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It's interesting to appreciate the vast spectrum of interpretations of "the meaning of life" (or whatever you want to call our topic). One of the obstacles to my retirement is that I fear I won't matter so much anymore. Of course, I realize there're ways to transfer the skills that allow me to make a difference, and that's where I concentrate my planning. And although we might be forgotten in 3 generations, or even 3 years, if we have added value along the way, the ripple effect might last eternally. ER's story is illustrative of that, and who knows who's thought similarly of YOU, although may never have connected with you.

I've been a flight attendant and seen the world, learned to fly, raised some champion horses, have some great kids, saved some lives, solved some crises. One thing, though, that really stands out for me is the gratitude of a college kid stuck in the ED with a diabetic crisis who was abject about missing his team competing in the NCAA final four. I found a TV for him. No big deal, right? But I'll never forget it, (kid probably has ). Since I consider myself totally normal, I just figured everybody thought back over their day to kind of gauge how they did. No?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jim9251 View Post
Oh I dunno, raised a couple of girls who are now medical doctors, saved a few lives, put some really bad guys in prison so they couldn't prey on innocent people any longer, took some wayward teenagers under my wing who are all now professionals with families. Planted trees, and flowers. Went fishing. I like fishing.
Great post, keep on fishin'!
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Old 05-11-2015, 05:44 PM
 
Location: delaware
688 posts, read 865,468 times
Reputation: 2367
i've never really felt the need to have accomplishments,goals, as some people may define them.

early in my life i was involved in professional music training, and although i never became a professional musician that would have matched the level of my training, i was always involved in music, in performance, as a soloist, and as a part of a musical group. i have had people say to me, after an especially good performance, that they have never heard a particular piece sound as good, and that the music really touched them in a way that few things had. these kind of comments were years ago, and i don't sound the way i once did. but, i continue to cherish and remember some of those experiences.

in the years i worked as a geriatric social worker, my so-called "day job", i know that i made a difference in some peoples' lives, at the very least, being a sounding board for some who were facing difficult, almost impossible decisions. through the years, outside of work, i have often taken that role with friends and acquaintances, assuming a listening ear for some who were trying to work through difficult relationships and facing losses they never expected to encounter. i know that some of these people appreciated having an objective response to their dilemmas, as they have later told me so.

in the teaching i do now, at life long learning, i have some students who after every semester, let me know that they appreciate what they feel i have given them, in terms of trying to develop into reminiscence writers.

i have often heard that we are put in the path of others to effect a change in their life , or to have them change ours. this may be true, but it was never something i had as a goal. i'm content with the memories and don't feel the need to strive for any more tangible accomplishments.

catsy girl
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Old 05-11-2015, 09:51 PM
 
172 posts, read 772,586 times
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As a token 20-something (who came into this topic by happenstance), reading some of these responses is giving me a sense of dread. I'm uncomfortable with the idea of not being accomplished. I'm afraid of a day where I look back and question the worth of my life, and feel it wasn't worth living.

I dunno, maybe I should phrase it less as "not being accomplished", and more as "not mattering" or being of no consequence.
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Old 05-11-2015, 10:20 PM
 
1,734 posts, read 1,951,663 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vicarian View Post
As a token 20-something (who came into this topic by happenstance), reading some of these responses is giving me a sense of dread. I'm uncomfortable with the idea of not being accomplished. I'm afraid of a day where I look back and question the worth of my life, and feel it wasn't worth living.

I dunno, maybe I should phrase it less as "not being accomplished", and more as "not mattering" or being of no consequence.
Don't worry. What you have is the feeling of an honest explorer thinking to get up Mt. Kilimanjaro (as an example) and looking at it from the bottom. It's intimidating. The way stations and details are pretty much dwarfed, but there's nothing for it but to make a start. As you go along, there are times when you know that you have made a difference to somebody. Sometimes you get thanks from the person, sometimes not. But YOU know.

An example of such a difference in my life: right before the great recession, I happened on a good conversation with a woman at a block party. Over the course of convo, it came out that I was looking for a job. She happened to know somebody. I got called in and got what would be considered a very good job, which allowed me to gain the experience to be recession-proof. The job made it possible for my son to get out of an untenable situation in which he became more and more morose, and to also get a new start. The job had all kinds of positive multiplier effects. The positive effects were all attributable to her willingness to put forth the energy to extend her hand and make a connection. All told, it probably was not a lot of trouble for her. For me, it made a world of difference!

Years later, I made it a point to thank her, and to explain how she made it possible for me to sustain a great living, and for my son to get a new start in a better place. She was genuinely touched.

There will be many opportunities for you to extend that hand to folks along the way. Choose the recipients of your help carefully - it's always been pretty amazing to me how little support we need to get back into balance to avoid a fall. If you find yourself in a situation where the helpee is unwilling to let go, that's not nature's way - and you get dragged down too.
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Old 05-11-2015, 10:45 PM
 
Location: land of ahhhs
277 posts, read 298,635 times
Reputation: 489
^^^^^This. (out of reps for ya)
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Old 05-12-2015, 04:56 AM
 
761 posts, read 639,846 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vicarian View Post
As a token 20-something (who came into this topic by happenstance), reading some of these responses is giving me a sense of dread. I'm uncomfortable with the idea of not being accomplished. I'm afraid of a day where I look back and question the worth of my life, and feel it wasn't worth living.

I dunno, maybe I should phrase it less as "not being accomplished", and more as "not mattering" or being of no consequence.
I think that if you have made a positive difference in the life of even 1 person you are accomplished and matter.

Whether it's being a good mother, father, sister, brother.....neighbor.........
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Old 05-12-2015, 05:19 AM
 
1,706 posts, read 1,229,362 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim9251 View Post
Oh I dunno, raised a couple of girls who are now medical doctors, saved a few lives, put some really bad guys in prison so they couldn't prey on innocent people any longer, took some wayward teenagers under my wing who are all now professionals with families. Planted trees, and flowers. Went fishing. I like fishing.
I love this- sounds like a life well-lived.
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Old 05-12-2015, 05:26 AM
 
11,281 posts, read 8,448,832 times
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Chalk up another "breaking the family dysfunction". Of course, my little family probably has invented brand new dysfunctions. lol

Ya know? My boys both got their GED's when they were 16. (I feared they would drop out.) I'd put them up against anyone in the world for intelligent conversation. They're making their way.

I've had a great time in this life. Crazy great time. Seen the country. Seen the world. Traveled with carnivals, joined the Marines, got two retirements to look forward to, have the love of my life FINALLY.

I've looked at clouds from both sides now but it took me accepting the Lord to really become who I am - though I am so imperfect it makes me not like myself sometimes but God can never love me (or you) more and He can never love me (or you) less. He's awesome! I'm so thankful. It's all Him.

Accept Him or not, we will all stand before Him one day. Am I wrong? I'd rather have Him and not need Him then need Him and not have Him.
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Old 05-12-2015, 06:20 AM
 
Location: Pennsylvania & New Jersey
1,497 posts, read 3,539,531 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jghorton View Post
As we get older, I think many of us ask the question/s: "What have I accomplished in my life?" - "Have I really made a difference that mattered in the world or in the lives of others ... (by whatever standard one chooses to measure such a thing). This is probably more fundamental than a simple "What things have I DONE?" question or answer. ...

Although I am not what society would deem a 'religious person,' I find tremendous meaning (and pause for ponderance) in the prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.


That pleading is full of objectives to attain the goal of being the best human being that I can be. That's the goal... not an 'arrival status'! Wow, for certain, I am still a work in progress!

So I reflect back on my life, and look forward to the years yet ahead, with these thoughts:
Have I been an instrument of peace? How can I best be one from here on?
Did I sow love to overcome hatred? How will I sow love today?
Did I pardon or allow bitterness to fester? Remove the bitterness from my heart.
Did doubt to limit my abilities, or did I have faith in the gifts granted by Divine Providence? I CAN!
Did despair dim the catalyst of hope? Sometimes, but today is the first day of the rest of my life. Carpe diem!
Was I a cause for other people's comfort or for others' distress? Be a comforter.
Were my eyes and ears open while my mouth was shut, or vice versa? Four inputs, one output... remember that!
Do I really love? And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
WAS LIFE A JOY? To the extent that I can choose, choose the bright side of the road.

What do you think? I'd like to know.
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Old 05-12-2015, 06:30 AM
 
1,706 posts, read 1,229,362 times
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Interesting responses and insights into what people find important.
We are born and we die, and yes, in 150 years we are unlikely to have been more than a tiny insignificant blip on history's radar. My take- is that while we are here, what we do does matter. We don't exist in a vacuum, and how we live our lives affects our family, our friends, our community.
I have been very fortunate- lots of twists and turns, no straight paths anywhere; there are people who have had a profound impact on my life. Some have shown me how to be a better person, another whose generosity changed the course of my life forever, and yet others who showed me a different way of living in this world.
As for my accomplishments, well, I have DONE a lot of things, lots of life experience, a couple of phenomenally bad decisions, but what I see as accomplishments likely aren't what others would. An advanced degree sits gathering dust in my desk- is that really an accomplishment of just part of a broader life experience? I helped a young woman purchase a house that she otherwise would never have been able to afford; I have provided shelter for the homeless both human and animal; I continue to work to make the world a better place for companion animals. Hopefully something I have done has made a difference, but I don't know that that is my call to make.
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