Friday, 21 February 2014

Kenny Rogers - Part II

Now where was I before I was so rudely interrupted by life? Ah, yes, that good ol’ Kenny Rogers song The Gambler. It has more wise words than just on letting go. I also like:

Oh to be as flexible as a cat!
Now ev'ry gambler knows that the secret to survivin'
Is knowin' what to throw away and knowing what to keep.

It’s not possible to keep everything. Just look at those people you see on A Current Affair, where the neighbours are at their wits’ end because the hoarding is totally out of control, has taken over the whole house, and is threatening to take over the whole suburb. It takes effort to properly look after the things you keep. So it’s worth it to let things go, or throw them away, so the things that are important, the things that are kept, are kept in good condition.

the tree is actually growing up
through the truck
When I stopped working, the things I missed most were the people. I was with these people for a significant proportion of my life, so of course I was going to miss them. But did I want to keep them? Were they just work friends? Had they become just friends – no adjective needed? Could they become just friends if I wanted them to?

Yep, I had to work out what, or rather who, to throw away, and who to keep. That sounds pretty harsh, but in reality, it usually isn’t a case of throwing away, but rather letting them fade away. It’s a natural progression. It happens all the time. At first it’s regular lunches to catch up. Then it’s coffee every now and then. Then it’s the occasional invitation to a group lunch. Then it’s the “we must catch up some time for coffee/drinks/lunch” when you cross paths in the street. Then before you know it, it’s the 20 year reunion!

So it’s nothing to feel guilty about if I don’t keep in contact with all those people I miss. It is enormously important, though, to make the effort with the people I know I want to keep. That has become a tiny little bit more difficult since we moved to Bathurst, but it is worth the effort.

finally finished my mosaic pot
maybe 18 months after starting
- all 4 sides are different
I’m not the kind of person who has lots of friends. I have a smaller number of friends, but I like to think that they are good ones – ones I can count on. Some of these friends I met at jobs I have had in the past, and I have been lucky enough to keep them. Reflecting on it now, I can see that we are actually better friends now than when we worked together. I think this is because when we worked together, we didn’t have to put in much effort. When we no longer worked together, we had to put in the effort to stay connected, find out what things we had in common apart from work, and really learn about each other.

And it is important to have friends – to keep them even when circumstances change, like leaving the workforce. Friends help me stay grounded (they will tell me when I’m being dill), and they help me still feel like a real person, instead of a boring old retiree! And those friends who are still in the workforce themselves help me to keep in touch with the world (it’s very easy to lose that when you are retired), and at the same time remind me of why I retired.

these carrots are close friends!
maybe I should have planted them
further apart?
After 3 years of retirement, I pretty much know now which friends I’m keeping. There aren’t that many of them, but they mean a lot to me. Like Kenny says, they are the secret to surviving.

These are "real" friends I'm talking about. If I was talking about Facebook friends – that’s a whole other story!

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