I distinctly remember two years before I retired, my wife Emma said to me, “What are you going to do when you don’t have all those work emails to respond to all day?” For about five minutes, I was terrorized by the truth of her statement. But then, I actively began thinking about and planning my post-retirment life. Today, exactly two years into my retirement, the title of Parker Palmer’s new book On The Brink of Everything precisely describes how I view my life today.
But life has not really gone according to my retirement plan. As my retirement fling, I intended to spend 12 weeks in Peru during the summer (Peruvian winter) of 2017. A serious bike wreck that spring cut my trip in half – and I was in considerable pain most of the time I was into Peru. Into 2017 I had several field and teaching projects lined up that were abandoned with my cancer diagnosis, followed by a heart attack. I spent less time at my wife’s store working/crafting and more time at Touro Infirmary in treatment.
But today, I am able to bring my experience, strength, and hope to my evolving life – and recognize, I am truly on the brink of everything. Here is an example: I am a strong believer in the Abrahamic tradition of welcoming the stranger and radical hospitality. I am disappointed that my fatigue precludes me from many activities around refugee support in Louisiana today. I anticipate joining with the local Grannies Respond group in the near future and meet refugees traveling through New Orleans at the Greyhound Station. However, today, from the comfort of my home, I am able to help coördinate a social media and fundraising campaign to support the work – something in which I have skills and there is a desperate need.
Similarly, I suspect that my work in the field with climate extremes are over whether in Peru or the U.S. But I am skilled and enjoy developing the digital presence and overall coordination for cultural heritage work of Culture and Community in Casma, Peru, an organization I helped launch two years ago.
My gardens have certainly thrived this summer and Emma and I are particularly excited about travel plans with our new directions. Not to mention the books to read, meals to cook, and so much more.
Truly, the possibility in life today is on the brink of everything. It does not matter whether I live for another six weeks, six months, or six years, the brink is still there.
I am blessed and grateful for these opportunities on the journey toward true self.