Tierra Encantada

Friday, March 31, 2006

March 31, 2006

Living in the present

The fortune cookie I got the other day at my favorite Chinese restaurant advised me to "Develop an appreciation for the present moment."

This came the day after I decided to buy one year towards my retirement. My employer offers a program where you can buy one year of "air time" towards retirement, that means you can retire one year earlier. They perform some actuarial calculation based on you current salary, age, and years put into the retirement plan thus far to come up with your purchase price. I'd retire today if I could, but I'm only in year 11 of a 25 year plan. I suppose what prompted me to even consider paying that much money was the desire to retire young and hopefully still be healthy enough to go out and have fun without financial worries. Life is not predictable by any means, so it may all be for nothing.

Right now I am in a career for the purpose of both short and long-term financial security. A regular paycheck and insurance benefits now and for the rest of my natural life are extremely attractive for someone like me who has a rational fear of financial insecurity. I like being comfortable, not worrying about how to pay the bills and I want it to stay that way. I want a pension and retiree health care benefits so that I'm not still working at age 75 just to eat or pay for my prescription medications. Without social security reform, the babyboomers are going to deplete what's left of the system and leave us younger cohorts with next to nothing. So, if you're not saving for your retirement since you're young, you're going to be working through the golden years. I think this essentially explains my preoccupation with the future, future financial security. That is my focus and sadly, I do not have as keen an appreciation for the present moment as I would like.

It's not that I don't realize how short life is or that every moment is precious. I do. But I would say I am by no means a risk taker. I wouldn't just leave my job or move somewhere new without a reasonable guarantee of something better waiting for me. I wouldn't jump into a relationship, romantic or platonic, that I do not foresee lasting for a very long time. I do, however, "stop and smell the roses" on a daily basis. I enjoy the sunrise, watch the birds chase each other as they engage in their spring mating ritual, smell the blossoms on the trees and marvel in the beauty of each blossom. At night I stare up at the stars and the moon and contemplate the immensity of the universe and my place in it.

So, the real issue is, how do I take more personal risk for the purpose of growth and put aside my fears? How do I live more for the moment yet maintain a healthy concern for the future? How do I find the balance? I have no huge revelations to share about this yet. But it's something I'm going to work on. It's something we all need to work on, living life to it's fullest and preparing responsibly for the future in the face of the unknown.