Sunday, November 11, 2007

NPR - Life in the middle of change

While pondering the day in the darkness on my deck at 4:00 am with a cup of coffee - it's cold, windy and infrequently rainy - I was thinking about the end of my second year in retirement, approaching in December. After retiring I've been in the middle of several major changes in my life, and I realized it's extremely difficult to assess anything beyond what you have done so far and what you want to do in the future. In short, being in the middle isn't the place to think too much.

And the changes? Well for one, retirement. To go from a government agency to your own personal endeaver, business to follow, is a big change. From being a mid-level senior technical manager, and former section chief and supervisor, to a one person operation. I set myself a timeframe of 3-5 years to have a foundation of what I would do with the rest of my life as well as achieved some things in the other areas of my life.

For another, my photography. In two ways. First, getting and learning two new camera systems, a large format and a full-frame digital is a leap from my long used Minolta manual focus system. I can't say enough about the fun it is with the cameras and the challenge to capture images. Second, is the print production, something I've always left to labs, but with the next change, I'm moving to complete in-house production except for film processing and large print (16x20 or larger).

For another, my Website and other plans, like writing, travelling, etc. This meant getting and working with a new computer. I've had computers at work - even managed and operated several in a series of satellite downlinks and data processing and dissemination software and databases. But getting a Mac G5 with several photographic and media production software was a big step into sitting in front of your own computer.

The plans for writing, which for now is several blogs and Web pages, will hopefully be expanded into chapters and later a book, but realistically way down the road. The travel plans are still there, but for the next few years I'm staying close to home. It's mostly a financially issue to ensure I don't lose track of the rest of my life plans and find myself in debt. There's a lot around here to photograph.

For another, being older. The last ten years has been the biggest change physically, where the reality of aging is beginning and the struggle to stay fit gets harder. When I was 48 I ran 20+ miles a week and went hiking 2-3 weekends a month during the spring-fall hiking season. Now I run 8-10 miles in a good week or walk 16-24 miles instead as I learned feet transporation isn't so bad. I still weight train, but less often as I find it's harder and the recovery longer.

As for my health, well, everyone has their diatribes about this or that trouble. Two years ago my physician had me go through the battery of test you're supposed to get after 50, ok, at 56, but better late than never. I took it as an adventure to understand where I was at physically, and the prospects of maintaining some level of health and fitness for my plans. The outlook is good, but it didn't defer the aging part.

For another, Mt. Rainier National Park. I first hiked in Mt. Rainier NP in 1977, but left for a career. I returned in 1987 and haven't stopped hiking as much as time, life and my body will allow, albeit less in recent years. In the mid-1990's I discovered there hadn't been a photo guide published in about 40 years. There are three overview ones now, so I decided to spend my retirement working on my own photo guide, and let it take me where it does.

For another, get back into being a student of the Tao. I "discovered" the Tao in Alan Watts book, "Tao, The Watercourse Way" when I was studying hydrology and water resources. I've always had an innnate connection with rivers, and partly why I joined the USGS as a hydrologic technician and later hydrologist, and became an infrequent fly-fisherman. Over the years life interceded and I wandered away from my study of the Tao, and now I'm going back, or forward anew.

For another, reviewing what I have (own) and want to keep. It was my goal to go through everything in my life, all the stuff we've collected and hauled around, and shrink it to what's in my place, no storage except the garage-type stuff and personal stuff I've had since childhood. Unfortunately this is one of those really major chores in life, and it's always easier to procastinate this into the to do list.

For another, something else. This is an on-going one that relates to my whole life. And I won't say more until it's clearer how the future will look. It's not about what but how it goes and what happens. This is one change it's done as you live. That's all you can do, and adjust on the way. Everything else are hopes and wishes.

In the end, it's the simple notion that pondering the universe at 4:00 am on a late fall morning is fine, pondering your life isn't. So, I'll drink the coffee and watch and listen to the early morning darkness.

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