Today at 11:00 AM (Pacific Time)--June 4, 2010--we finally got word that our house which has been on the market for five months finally passed all hurdles and "closing" happened this morning! After three offers, escrow, endless other paperwork challenges, selling and storing goods...and a lot more--we're ready to move on! With the title transfer registered today we move out Sunday afternoon at 5:00 pm from our nice Redlands Spanish-style suburban home where we spent good and bad seven years... I will need some time to assess the balance between good and bad!
Though this last five months has been traumatic and often frustrating--particularly trying to do it all with me based in Africa where I was last working with DFGFI in Congo while Karen manned the house back in California with our younger son Colby and kitty (Carmen San Diego). I was a bitter pill having to accept a price down $150,000 from the high watermark two years ago during the "real estate bubble"--I keep reminding myself that it was a "bubble--therefore not reality! And, in the final analysis, we are consoling ourselves with the fact that we are doing better than most. We made a little more than we bought the house for in 2003 and made enough to pay off debts and can start over in a smaller place--somewhere as far from California as we can get! Now if our 401k would bounce back we would feel better about the rest of our life--the "golden years--as they say!
I think of friends and colleagues who walked away from homes and lives in Las Vegas with their loans "under water" having lost it all! We are thankful for small favors! We still have our health, great kids, many friends around the world, a lifetime of fulfilling exciting work, and hopefully the ability to learn and grow from all this...
We have sold most of our furniture as well--using Craig's List--what a great new internet tool!--and are ready to move wherever (no buying houses again) and just renting or house sitting etc. We hope to keep life much simpler from now on--to be able to move and work anywhere without the encumbrance of the huge amounts of material goods, cars, tools, furniture, and everything else that went with the typical California suburban lifestyle. Particularly after working in Abu Dhabi in 2008, then in Rwanda all of 2009 and in Congo the last five months--I'm quite ready to move on to another lifestyle--one that for many was seen as the "American Dream"--at least that is what we were told--but one which for many Boomers turned into a nightmare!
For the next few months we will travel, hike, reflect, take pictures, get to know our country up close--particularly the natural heritage that is still our glory--volunteer on projects we believe in, and live in a small apartment in New Haven Connecticut near our kids and new grandchild--Celeste! They also have opted for the low-material goods no-commute approach to life, i,e, live in a small apartment without a car, walk to work, lots of simple outdoor pleasures (hiking, photography, etc) and good food in local restaurants, etc.... Our son and daughter-in-law are both young first-year profs at Yale University living across the Green from Yale where they walk to work and have helped their parents rediscover the benefits of living in a close-knit community with a diverse cultural makeup!
Turning 65, selling a house and two cars, losing a long-loved pet, joining Medicare and Social Security generation and AARP, and slimming down physically (like I have done) and taking some time off to hike and get back in shape sounds like a great agenda for the next few weeks/years! Over the next few days/weeks I will explore further my return to the simpler life--very similar to what I did over 45 years ago when I worked six summers in the Sierra Nevadas living in a small tent. Funny how life's trajectory can circle around to where you started. I may actually finnish this time the parts of the John Muir Trail I didn't do 45 years ago.also Time to remember what my earlier dreams and desires were and make them count now! There is always time for new beginnings--that is the good part of the American Dream I firmly believe!
I'm curious how many other "Boomers" are going through similar soul-searching and life-changing experiences. It will be interesting to explore how my generation copes with it all--maybe that will be one of the central themes of my blog! I hope I can see all this change as an opportunity for growth and finding and enjoying new pleasures, rather than a time for despair and regret, as some seem to be looking at this episode in America's social history... My ancestors came from Ireland and Scotland and hacked there way across the plains to start life in the Oregon territory under much more severe circumstances; my generation can also discover new beginnings even late in life--that is my goal!
I plan to remain very active in doing things I really believe in, commit myself to enjoying life's simple pleasures, and will explore ways to learn from life's experience lessons that can be a guide for the next generation--if anyone cares to listen. And hopefully help the next generation avoid some of our Boomer detours, waste, and frantic search for fulfillment in material goods and technology that was always a chimera at best!
Some are saying the next generation will have it harder than ours. In some ways that could be true--particularly if our generation doesn't try to right some of the wrongs we produced! But maybe they will learn from us how to avoid the pitfalls of our generation--I hope the latter. If the next generation will be forced to live a simpler and less technologically-dependent life, one more in tune with community, ecology, and the essence of the human spirit--that should be seen as growth and progress rather than a loss--I hope that is the case!
More later on what I'm thinking about how to use the "rest of my life" in ways that "does good" rather than just accumulates goods--one that will also be more fulfilling and happy! If anyone out there has suggestions or comments I am open to discussion and counsel!
It feels good to be writing about this...I will have to retrain myself to state clearly my inner-most thoughts. I hope my friends and colleagues will bear with me as I occasionally bare my soul!
More to come...