It’s My Life, Sort Of – Free as a butterfly

I was spellbound by this butterfly's dance on widflowers Tuesday. (All photos by Joe Barkovich)

I was spellbound by this butterfly’s dance on wildflowers Tuesday. (All photos by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

I have taken a liking to what is known as the retired life.

Not that it was easy.

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The period of withdrawal after the opiate of a 43-year career in the same workplace had its ups and downs.

That was back in November, 2012. Now it is July, 2014. As the saying goes: “Move on”. So I have.

I suppose I arrived at that reality when I said to myself: “Stop the clock!”

In my life now, there is no starting time, no finishing time. Deadline does not exist. The word has almost become meaningless.


DSC_1461 (2)Now I’m finding what it can mean to be free as a butterfly. Well, within limits.

Someone gave me some good advice. Unfortunately I did not heed it at the time, well at least not right away. I think it may have been Steve Krar, 90, the renowned Welland textbook author and educator.

“Keep your hands busy, active, and your mind busier and more active,” he recommended.

It was a one-line death sentence for couch potatoitis. I have been known to fall victim to it at certain times and could have fallen into the death trap with so much time on my hands, especially in those long, cold, winter days and nights. It became the executioner’s song for boredom: “Keep your hands busy, active and your mind busier and more active,”

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Another thing I learned: Don’t fall victim to Mad Men-like marketing ploys specializing events like “Seniors Day” sales. Why? I don’t want to let myself be herded into a niche that makes people of a certain demographic a special class, one might say. Besides, I think this demographic branding, as I call it, has a way of making people feel older than they are.

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Being retired gives one more time and more opportunity, to “give back”, as the saying goes. There is a shortage of volunteers and participants in community groups and organizations like no time before if the pleas for help from them can be believed. Postings are on bulletin boards in offices and public meeting places, in church bulletins and volunteer group newsletters. Giving back, especially with surplus time on one’s hands, can be good for the heart – and for the soul.

My day starts – almost each and every day I might add – with a walk with our dog, Buddy. They have ranged from 15 or 20 minutes up to an hour or more. One learns the meaning of loyalty, friendship and unconditional love through a walk with a dog. When we return home, Buddy plops down beside my chair and does not move until I do. His way of showing appreciation, I suppose. The repetitive physical activity and increased consciousness about diet has helped me shed pounds and inches from my girth. My blood pressure is lower. I am liking being retired.

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The daily walks have led to bonding with nature. I know that sounds corny, but I’ve spent hours watching bees flit from one flower to another in pursuit of nectar to be made into honey, and equal time on watching the butterflies dance on wide open, inviting coneflower, a wildflower that has become one of summer’s joys. Although an admirer in years past, I’ve learned to take the time and enjoy the spectacle that goes on each and every day this time of year. It is more than a small joy, it has turned into a spellbinding, open-air recital starring busy bees and flirtatious, beautiful butterflies. Where is the marquee so that others can know about the performance?

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I have my rose beds, they require some tending to each and every day. I also have – purslane, (a variety of portulaca), which is highly invasive. Grrrr! Although some folks say it is healthy eaten as a salad, purslane is causing me to pull out my hair because it just can’t be brought under control and it is unsightly. Tending to and working in the garden is a way of keeping one’s hands very busy in retirement days.

And so it is another day. “Stop the clock!” I still say, to no one in particular other than myself. There is no starting time, no finishing time in this still-new form of existence and no deadline. As I like to say: “It’s my life, sort of.” I am free as a butterfly. I am getting to like it that way.

Here’s a closing thought from author LeeAnn Taylor: “We are all butterflies. Earth is our chrysalis.”

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(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City. It’s My Life, Sort Of appears on the blog weekly.)

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