Monday, February 1, 2010

Moments of Clarity


Clarity eludes me most days. That may be why I am grateful for those rare moments of absolute clarity that do present themselves occasionally. Such a time came to me in November 2009 when I heard Sandra Cisneros speak at the Pueblo Library. One of my favorite authors, she had been chosen as a guest speaker when All Pueblo Reads selected her book House on Mango Street for its book of the year. I attended her lecture, not looking for clarity of thought, but rather because I had always wanted to see her in person. House on Mango Street was one of my favorite books to teach when I was teaching, so I really looked forward to hearing what ever insights she had to give on her writing.

Photo: Pueblo City County Library

As I do whenever I hear a lecture or a speech, I scribbled notes in my little journal. My notes that day might have become just another record of things I heard and duly noted for future reference if it had not seemed that she suddenly began to speak to me directly. "If you don't tell your story, it doesn't count," Sandra stated boldly. "She is right," I thought, and in my own mind, I also heard, "You are retired now, so you no longer have any excuses for not writing."

Once the talk was over, I was able to see and speak with many friends in the audience. Because I am inspired not only by the words of others but also by interaction with others, seeing many dear friends and former colleagues kept my enthusiasm for the insights I had gleaned during Sandra Cisneros' talk at a high pitch. A much admired former professor, Dr. Margaret Barber, was one with whom I spoke. Margaret, in her first year of full retirement, shared a few thoughts about her new status. She seemed so sure of herself and how she was going to spend her time. She seemed to know exactly what path she was going to take in this time of her life. As always, I found myself learning from her. "I must not squander the gift of retirement," I thought after speaking with her.

It was in this state of mind, that I walked out of our beautiful library and headed toward my car. Gazing out over my city, and thinking of my experiences of the day, I had one of those rare moments of clarity. In fact, I spoke aloud to myself, "I am where I need to be in my life, and I am living in the exact right place for this time in my life." Now that may not seem to be very profound words to some, but for me they were significant and important. Part of what I have struggled with in retirement has focused on where my husband I should live. Pueblo has not always been the place where I wanted to spend the rest of my life. In fact, I had always hoped that my husband and I would move from Pueblo once we retired.

But on this day, back in November 2009, I knew for certain that I needed to stay right where I was. After years of wishing I could leave this place, I knew that Pueblo had seeped into my very being and implanted itself on my heart. "If I leave here, I won't write," I thought to myself.

Many affirmations began to tumble into my mind as I spoke my moment of clarity into being. They became bright little gems of thought that made my insight into knowing that I was just where I needed to be in my life for this time and this place even more precious. Some of these affirmations included these following thoughts. I know the educational community here; therefore, if I wish to contribute to future educational ventures, I know where
we have been as an educational community and where we wish to go. I have connections here. My husband served over 40 years as an educator here, and I have been a part of this community for nearly 20 years. This community has given me much; now I will be able to give back. Besides, how can I leave a community that names a street after my husband? We are established here; we don't have to waste any energy getting reestablished.

I have begun my garden here. I have accepted the climate, soil, the wind,
the heat and all the other factors that go into making this place an interesting place to plant a garden. If I moved, I would have to rethink my garden. I would have to adapt to a new environment both physically and socially. I am here. Here I will stay for now. It is in this place that I wish to establish my new identity as a retired educator. It is here where I wish to learn what I will need to learn for the next stage of my life.

3 comments:

#1Nana said...

Hi Sally, You wrote about some of the same challenges that I have faced in adjusting to retirement. I thought I was the only one who didn't have it all figured out! The line that really hit home was about no longer having excuses...so true, so true! I now have to own that I have no interest in completing some projects that I always said I just didn't have time for. Sometimes it's hard facing the reality.

I'm going to follow your blog. Maybe as you find the answers, I'll find some too. Keep up the good work.
Jann

sallylwess said...

#1 Nana - I love that you said that you have just plain lost interest in things that you thought you wanted to do. I think that is one of the most surprising part of being retired. That might make a good blog topic for both of us!

#1Nana said...

Sally,
Just checking in...I hope you're off on great retirement adventures, not just suffering from writer's block. I look forward to your next post.
Jann aka #1Nana