I'm in Thailand now - got here last night, went out walking with my brother, and have had the entire day to myself so far. I feel like I can breathe again.
It's a wonderful feeling, abundance. When you're anchored in both freedom and security - knowing that you have enough time and space, enough resources to enjoy and deal with and unwind whatever you need, and that you'll be able to do so... the world changes, and so can you. I have a bit of that, for now. I have a reasonable idea when this abundance will start and when it will end, and how I have to work on getting it to come again, for longer - and what I want to do, what I'm saving for, is the ability to have it - and give it to others - for the rest of my life.
That is what retirement is, for me. Not an end to work, but the knowledge that you and those you care about will always be fine - which you don't accomplish through the saving-up of money alone, but also by the building of skills and environments, physical and psychological resources, flexibility, resilience... and by "building," sometimes I actually mean "stripping away."
When I am an old woman, I will be tall and straight and strong, active and leaping up the stairs, carrying small children and racing older ones. I will be aware of the world around me - I will have seen much more of it, of course - and there will always be much more to see and learn, so I will continue to be awake and curious. I will be sharp; I want the years to have improved my mind and wit with work and effort and study and hard-won lessons pulled from failure and experience.
I will be wiser - wise enough to have fun. I will move and think and breathe with an economy of effort and effectiveness that is still willing to try new and unfamiliar things and flounder like a colt; I will not sit and stagnate on the side, but I will not run nonstop until I'm ragged either. I will be happy, and surrounded by people and love and life, and sit on the sidewalk sipping tea in the quiet evening before I go out dancing - and maybe leap up into the band and spell off the piano player for a song or two. I'll be one of those old tai chi ladies that can kick the asses of kids a third my age while standing on one foot and holding a fan.
I don't imagine these things will come instantly or easily, but I don't want to defer happiness because I'm working so that I can have it later. If you bust your ass and then have 5 minutes of happiness before you die - that's not what life is for. I will enjoy life now and build a future. (And yes, perhaps I shall wear purple with a red hat.) I will grow gracefully, age well, and die happy.
Sometimes it is hard to find examples to learn from - different people give me bits and pieces of what I'd like to do or have or be, and as the number of people and the types of role models I'm exposed to grows, I see the many different sorts of balances that are possible, and am more and more inspired to shape my own. I'm glad and lucky to be able to be exposed to all these different things, even if they bring up rawness and pain sometimes when I look at what I'm doing and I find that... no, I don't actually want to be that way. (This isn't a reactive "I've got to catch up and be better than them / have stuff / oh man!" follow-the-Joneses response - it's noting an alignment and a peace I do not have within myself, and trying to move to gain it.)
 I was one of those kids. I spent a few months in Manila shortly after I turned 21, when I was in much better physical shape than I am now. I studied some tai chi while I was there; this largely involved extreme patience on the part of my Guakong's younger brother while I struggled to learn to walk - in a straight line, I couldn't even turn - down the parking lot, back and forth in the early morning. While I fumbled through a basic walk with sweat pouring down my face, ladies in their 60's and 70's were doing incredibly beautiful, slow high kicks and long, low stretches. With swords. I thought: Holy shit. I would like to have that grace when I grow up. (And also, more sheepishly: ...I know this is a little silly, but I wouldn't mind the swords.)
I'm grateful to those who grant me this space, and grateful to those who sit with me in it and help me remember who I want to be. Over the past 24 hours, Jason and Sebastian have done a lot to help me remember to come back into myself. Thanks, guys.
I'm writing more calmly, a little more clearly, now. Last week's writing was full of frustrated fury. I'm not all the way back together yet; I still see my thoughts being fragmented (look how this blog post jumps around) - it's clear for small spaces, but not pieced together. Still a little agitated, but clearer, coming together. It is hard to keep a sense of your own self when you hop between so many spaces, bridge so many worlds, have so many things and thoughts and pressures coming at you from all sorts of directions.
I feel kinda wimpy for getting so frustrated about a week - just a week! and not an overly scheduled week at that, it's pretty good! - but it's also... I'm trying not to turn off awareness these days, and awaking more and more to how much I shove that sense aside in order to be something for somebody else - hurts. A lot. And I don't have a clear way to heal from that sort of hurt yet - the "I will ignore it and forge onwards!" that gets me in trouble in the first place is my coping mechanism for everything else - so even if it's a tiny scratch comparatively speaking, it crumples me because I can't use my existing high-performance defenses (which cause the problem in the first place).
Nap, Inkscape... or maybe Inkscape and then nap... and then if I get to expense reports, I get to them - if I don't, I set an email autoresponder and stop worrying.