Upon disembarking the train at Venezia Santa Lucia station, a gaggle of porters, portabagagli, identifiable by their hand carts, greet us. The initial offer centers around luggage transportation to a hotel, but it quickly becomes apparent that everything in the city moves either by boat or these hand carts.
No food is produced on the islands, so all that is necessary for residents and tourists comes from the mainland.
We travel with only a carry-on and a backpack each, so we really do not need someone to assist with the load. The detailed instructions from our landlord pre-empt the need for direction.
But who will help carry the load as I move into the next chapter of life? And, what will be my/our burdens? Will we be a burden either to one another or to our children? To what or whom shall we turn when our knees, hips and back give out, or our spirits begin to ache? Whom shall we trust to set the direction? What will nourish and sustain?
On a practical level, we have begun to downsize our life into the equivalent of a carry-on. We left our home of 32 years, moved into a condo, updated wills and powers of attorney and drafted a Living Will. And, with trips such as this, we are busy chipping away at our children’s inheritance. Not all is done, but we are slowly accommodating to restricting physical conditions, albeit not without protest.
Still, as we observe friends and fellow travellers on the retirement road, it becomes clear that not all can be foreseen and managed. Strokes, falls, touches of flu that linger and routine medical tests that yield unwelcome results now feel too familiar.
Are we as well prepared emotionally or spiritually?
In her book, Bittersweet, Susan Cain cites research confirming that times of transition are when we are “most likely to experience meaning, communion, and transcendence.” University of California Davis creativity researcher Dean Keith Simonton found that “creativity seems to move in a spiritual direction during midlife and beyond, as artists straddle the intersection between life and death.” As they aged, a study of musicians and playwrights “concluded that their themes grew more religious, spiritual and mystical.”
What a strange time when many christen it the best time of life even while facing a profound challenge!
Have you found it to be true that "creativity seems to move in a spiritual direction during midlife and beyond?"