My parents are of an age where their friends and acquaintances are dying in ever-increasing numbers. Some of them are felled before they make it to retirement, some of them have been there awhile and others have found that elusive balance between work and play for much of their lives.
I’m of age where retirement feels eons away and I find it easy to assume that I have many tomorrows to fill with my dreams. I file plans for retirement as easily as I put money into my pension.
Of course, I know there are no guarantees in life. I may not make it until retirement. The carefully saved money could disappear. The health I’m blessed with could be taken with one illness or a single accident. The people I want to spend time with may no longer be around. I’ve already faced the loss of one dream with the collapse of my marriage; others may still follow.
The other day, I learned from my father about another death. A man who had been looking forward to having time to pursue his passion. A passion which is now to be carried out by those who loved him. The conversation gave me pause. We so often delay our passions due to necessity – the bills that need to be paid, the house that needs upkeep and the tasks that accompany life. It’s so easy to forget those things which make us truly alive while we tend to those minutiae which keep us alive.
Immediately following that conversation, Brock called from his business trip. He had some information that was making him think about his future, causing him to question the retirement he was planning. We had an interesting talk, weighing the “now” versus the “maybes” in the future, trying to extrapolate the potential repercussions down the road of various choices. We arrived at no answers, only a sense of clarity and of shared purpose in our goals. For now, that’s enough.
I used to think that if I kept quiet, played by the rules, that everything would be okay. That was my life assurance policy. Unfortunately, the premium on the policy was way too high – causing me to pay with procrastination of passion, keeping me in a waiting room of life. And then, when those promises of a secure future for a faithful wife and hard worker failed to materialize, it turned out that the policy didn’t pay.
That experience was like one of near-death. I live in a way I didn’t before now that I truly comprehend how much of an illusion security can be.
I’ve now written my own life assurance policy. It’s more a list of promises to myself than anything. A list that reminds me to live for today. The premium only requires that I remind myself of my promises and stay true to my own beliefs. It requires no forms and no salesmen. It’s fully transferable and never expires. And that’s a life assurance policy I can feel good about.
Lisa’s Life Assurance Policy
-Remember your passions. Find a way to incorporate them into daily (or at least weekly) life. Ignore the excuses the brain kicks up – that’s only fear talking.
-Don’t spend more time/money/energy on tomorrow than you do for today. Every day and every interaction is worth it.
-Be smart about planning for tomorrow but don’t waste time worrying about tomorrow. There is too much you cannot foresee and cannot control.
-Become at peace with change. It’s not going anywhere; you might as well get used to it.