It’s quite a few years since I formally retired and several since I officially became a pensioner so it’s perhaps excusable and unsurprising that I’m physically and intellectually less active than I used to be. This is not to say that I’ve become entirely inert but rather that I’m less driven to creative and expressive pursuits than was once the case. On reflection, much of what I wanted to say has now been said and others have responded (occasionally at least). Additionally, my health is no longer as good as it was and this limits my motivation and ability to get out and about. These changes have really surprised me in terms of their impact.
Elsewhere in this blog, I’ve written of a now-deceased neighbour who retired one day and, to all intents and purposes, never left his home again until he went into hospital to die. At the time, this surprised and saddened me but now I begin to see his life in a different way. I’m reminded of the title of a chapter in a biography of the psychologist Carl Jung : “Back to the rhizome“. This botanical analogy perfectly encapsulates what happened to my neighbour in his last years. Like certain plants, he ceased to expend increasingly precious energy on external activities (such as showy flowers and leaves) but withdrew to his core and, in so doing, concentrated his essence into the vital heart – the rhizome. From this concentration on smaller and more deeply personal thoughts and activities came the ability to transcend mundanity and to focus upon core issues that the frenetic pace of professional and family life had previously made impossible. It’s perhaps no coincidence therefore that the elderly are often more spiritually inclined than the young and that, in consequence, many seek out the comfort of organised religion with the result that congregations tend to be largely drawn from this group.
But fear not, I have yet to get religion, especially of the organised kind. Nonetheless, my energies are increasingly withdrawn to a sustainable core and peripheral matters are slowly but surely falling away, some because they no longer seem important enough to justify the expenditure of increasingly precious energy. Unfortunately, communication demands a good deal of this energy, hence the lack of activity on the website etc : as my neighbour discovered, it’s not about having no opinions or having nothing to say but rather about recognising and accepting that these things are ultimately somewhat inconsequential in the Grand Scheme of Things. Put simply, there are more important things to be resourced from an increasingly limited energy supply.
Rest assured though that, in the unlikely event that, in my ruminations, I discover that the answer to the Ultimate Question is not, after all, 42, I’ll let you know.