Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Aspire Stories, Not Perfection

Have you ever noticed the family stories that get told over and over again are NOT about the times when everything turned out perfect? Instead, they are the occasions when we look back and laugh at ourselves, or the situation.

A friend was telling me about her Thanksgiving dinner. She's a great cook and gracious hostess. And yet this year, something went wrong with every part of her Thanksgiving dinner. Her kitchen has two ovens. And with so many people in the kitchen, the one with the turkey inadvertently got turned off. No one noticed until someone said, “I don't smell turkey cooking.” The butternut squash was runny and had no flavor. You might think nothing can go wrong with mashed potatoes, but somehow hers turned out dry and gritty.

Fortunately the table setting was beautiful, and the appetizers and desserts were delicious, except the whipped cream never whipped. It was more like thick milk. 

Still, more guests commented on this being the best Thanksgiving, more so than from the years when everything turned out perfect. What's up with that?

Similarly, I was challenging a workshop participant to figure out ways to make more of his interest in camping. I suggested he devote one trip to preparing all the meals over an open fire. This goal might require research on the best techniques and recipes—and if so, even better. We're not trying to make retirement easier. We're aiming to make it more interesting. He was intrigued by the idea of cooking over an open fire instead of the electric stove in his pop-up camper. If a few meals turn out bad, oh well. He has a good story.

Click here to read about my camping experience. Great story. One that gets repeated with equal laugher four years later. More actually since I was quite frazzled when I went through the experience.

At this point in our lives, our goal shouldn't be perfection. What we need and love are stories. Not that we intentionally cook a bad meal, or choose to get lost between the bathroom and campsite, but when it happens, so what?

Are you playing retirement too safe? Are you still aiming for perfection?

Author James Marshall Reilly, in his book Shake Up the World: It's Not About Finding a Job, It's About Creating a Life, says, “When you are young, there is no wrong choice other than the safe choice.” Reilly suggests that young adults have very little to lose, that they are “gifted a uniquely low-risk window of time to invest in themselves.”

I propose the same is true for those of us in retirement. Lighten up. Live life more whimsically. Now is the time to delight in your stories.

Copyright 2018. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.  

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