Strolling around the park yesterday, an elderly gentleman and I both stopped at the same time to admire a Blue Heron poised to catch an unsuspecting fish or frog in a lily pad-covered pond. Continuing our conversation while walking, we kept each other company for the rest of journey around.
Talking with the elderly is always a learning experience, I never fail to walk away with an appreciation for the roads taken and sympathy for the roads not.
Reading between the lines of our conversation, I saw a life where adventure was part of the package with a preference for solitary activities in spite of friends and family. Fast forward, he shared with me an elderly life with estrangement from children and family; yet, some wonderful accomplishments of travel. His eyes brightened when he spoke of his adventures, but regret that there was no one to share his stories with.
My personality tends to lean towards the introverted. I can easily dive into projects at home which happily keep me busy and give me an out from being social. However, I had a chance to think about how sometimes introverted and postponing time with friends and family can backfire. When will there never be an interesting project to work on?
Imagine a life where your sight is diminished and all your old hobbies are now too hard to do like cycling, knitting, woodworking or gardening. You have so much time to sit and remember the past….preferably without too much regret and with loved ones around. It’s the stage of life where I wish one could fast forward to see what old age is like and understand in a Christmas Carol sort of way what needs modifying now.
In my own job, I see time and time again the epidemic of loneliness. At first, it’s easy to judge and criticize the children, but for most, I imagine in most cases it’s a little of sowing what you reap…did you invest the time, did you stay close, did you nurture your relationships? Or were you too busy working, too angry, too drunk or high, too caught up in yourself.
It’s worth investing time in people…especially if you’re introverted. Those relationships with your children, your spouse, extended family and friends are worth keeping strong because loneliness is not to be taken lightly. Loneliness can have serious mental and physical health complications, and it is truly an awful way to exist.
Just a thought to ponder as you’re moving through your day. Invest in the people you care about with your time. Your future self won’t have time to thank you….they’ll be too busy laughing with old friends.