Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. Cool, crisp temperatures, colorful leaves, and rosy-gold sunlight painting everything it touches with a warm glow all speak to me. Perhaps that is why being in the autumn of my life resonates with me so much.
It is time to step back and appreciate all that I have accomplished in my life and all that remains to be done. Just as this is the time to plant bulbs that will bloom in the spring, now is the time in my life to plant seeds of greatness to germinate in the coming years. In my opinion, far too many people look at retirement as the time to rest on their laurels. “You’ve earned this, enjoy doing nothing,” I hear others say to those of us who are retired. But I believe this is the time to kick life into high gear and to seek to master certain aspects of it.
I have always been fortunate to have enough intelligence and talent to dabble and succeed in a variety of endeavors. But I don’t feel like I’ve ever mastered any of them. I love growing plants, but I’ve never studied landscaping or horticulture. I dig holes, shove plants into them, and marvel that they prosper. Now I want more. I want to plan my garden and the landscaping around our home. I want to know the genus and species of what I am planting, how to propagate them, and their various properties. Whether I will take the time to become a certified Master Gardener, I cannot yet say. But I do know that I want to know more, be more, do more than I am now.
I love music. I studied it in college. But I never was a true musician. I know what the inside of a piano looks like and the basic mechanics of the action of the keys, but I never studied the evolution of my instrument and how the modern piano came into existence. I studied music theory as well and regurgitated the information needed for my exams. But I never dove deep enough into it that theory became a part of me.
I can play pieces from memory. However, I have not studied those pieces to the point I can see the score in my head, recognize the subtleties the composer intended with the dynamics or break down complicated rhythms and integrate them into my soul. Truth be told, I haven’t touched a piano in almost a year although I own two of them. Before I played for attention. Now in the autumn of my life I will play for mastery, artistry, and expression.
Similarly, I am working on mastering relationships and family dynamics. Before, I thought there would always be time to reconcile difficult relationships. Now, I recognize years are flying by and that the opportunity to heal old wounds is fast disappearing.
Like the leaves on the tree, I want this part of my life to be as dramatic and colorful as possible. And when I fall to the earth and die, I will know that my life was the masterpiece it was intended to be.