I was on vacation last week at an idyllic spot on the Big Island of Hawaii that my husband and I used to frequent many years ago. This was our first trip back there in over 10 years. As I walked along the beach my first morning there, I found myself thinking about those earlier visits many, many years ago.
I thought about how young we were, and of all the things we had hoped for in our future, and it made me unexpectedly a little sad. After a few days I came to realize why. When I was working, fantasizing about my future gave me an extraordinary amount of pleasure and I miss that!
Thinking about a future vacation, or my future retirement, or really any future plan, was an escape from the mundane business of going to work each day. Obsessing about whatever future plans I had was the thing that got me through the workweek.
Now that I'm retired, I'm living in that future and have nothing to escape from. It turns out that while I don't miss the actual working part, I do miss the obsessing about my future part. Having something to obsess about is part of who I am. Having something happy to think about off in my future helped me to not have to focus so much on the actual working-to-get-there part.
I don't mourn the loss of that job, I mourn the loss of my distraction from that job: dreaming about my future. Since there's nothing I want to escape anymore, I don't fantasize about the future anymore, and I now realize how much I miss doing that!
Figuring out what I was going to spend my days doing in retirement was not the hard part--I don't even have time to do all the things I want to do. The hard part is recapturing that orientation toward the future.
Perhaps I've got it all wrong. Maybe the point isn't to keep focusing on the future but to start remembering how to relish the present moment.
I must admit, I did relish arriving home late Sunday night knowing that I did not have to get up in the morning and go to work. I guess that's a start!