Who Will Carry the Load? (Italy #9)

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?"


  1. Last week a friend recommended Susan Cain’s Bittersweet to me. I’ve requested it from the library. I enjoyed her book Quiet.
    As death comes closer (I just had a “very healthy” friend, 68, suddenly die), I’ve noticed that spiritual considerations of life (and death) becomes more present, disturbing, and real.

  2. Venice is truly magic from the moment you disembark the plane and enter the water city… the vaporetto , the life of a city on water. Two of my girls and I stayed in a very average hotel that overlook a canal and all of the life that goes on there… magical
    I hope Venice is taken care of

    1. Talking with some Venetian residents they are profoundly concerned about the impact of global warming. Some said it was too late to save the city; others a bit more cautious v

  3. Thank you Keith, this is something that is occupying me these days as well. My sisters and I are taking care of our mother in shifts with help from another women, three days a week. Our mother is well, but I’m conscious that I don’t expect the same from my children as only one is close by. I read “the Swedish art of death cleaning” and have been working awy on downsizing as well, so they don’t have to. It’s a happy time tinged with memories, but still daunting some days. So happy you are writing these blogs, keep it up! Kate

    1. Thank you Kate. I appreciate the comment, plus seeing your name again. And encouragement is never wasted. 🙂

  4. Your blogs provoke a myriad of thoughts to sort through Keith. No time this past week until your invitation to Oak Bay United this coming Sunday set another train going.
    I am saddened by the knowledge of 3 churches known to me that are losing members, for whatever reason, and may face a bleak future. I feel attached by music to one, to another the challenge to intellect and deeper thinking, and to another by the beauty of belonging to a caring “family” of Christians. What to do?
    The Bible readings for this coming Sunday, lead to yet another thread even more important. Something for me to hold on to and to feed me with love that can be shared with others even in our darkest times.
    Hence the overwhelming joy at the following that occurred this past week.
    My friend in Palliative was asked by the nurses how she was feeling as she slipped away.
    Her reply “I am in a state of Grace”.
    Now that is something to believe and remember the joy and peace it holds for us all.

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