A Beautiful Pasture

Monday, April 19, 2010

There are times in our lives when we feel like we've been put out to pasture. Retirement comes to mind (even if it is completely voluntary and eagerly anticipated, as mine was), but it can also happen when we send a child off to kindergarten or college, lose a job, or move away from family and friends. If fact, it can happen anytime we feel lonely or unappreciated.

Don't get me wrong. Being put out to pasture isn't a bad thing. In fact, it can be inspiring and joyful. That's because, like the horse in the picture (who lives by the Pololu Valley Lookout on the big island of Hawaii), we can live in a beautiful pasture.

My "retirement" pasture has me galloping about so much that I would welcome the chance to sit down and relax. Yes, I anticipated the time spent writing--that was the whole purpose. I also welcomed the opportunity to be actively involved in two writers' organizations (besides my regular Saturday afternoon critique group). What I didn't anticipate was the time commitment.

Not that I'm sorry about being so involved. Writing is a solitary task, and the writing groups remind me that I'm not alone. More importantly, they make me part of a wider community that interacts socially as well as professionally.

When my parents retired, they increased the time they spent traveling, writing, and volunteering. To them, retirement was an opportunity, not a curse. At 90, my mother still travels and sings in two choirs. She is also writing her memoirs and has caught my father's bug for letters to the editor.

That's the secret. Whatever (or wherever) your pasture is, make it beautiful. Get involved in church activities, find a part-time job, or volunteer. If you keep busy, you won't have time to feel lonely or unappreciated.

There are a number of ways to find volunteer opportunities. Try your local library to see how you can help with its programs (for example, working in its book sale room or tutoring illiterate adults) and for listings of other community organizations. On-line resources can also hook you up with volunteering opportunities. Examples are http://www.1-800-volunteer.org/, http://www.volunteermatch.org/, www.volunteer.gov/gov (especially good for finding volunteer opportunities at national parks and recreation sites), and http://www.dosomething.org/ (which appears to cater to a younger crowd).

As long as you keep busy, any pasture can be beautiful.

1 comment:

Linda Glaz said...

I agree, and am busier than ever before, but I have to admit to missing the greener pasture--raising my kids. Ah, for the nest to be full again. Of course, then I'd be complaining about all the chaos. Whoosh!

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