Friday, May 10, 2013

The Right Tools For The Job

My father was an auto mechanic. When I was little I would sometimes go to see him at his service station and garage in Brooklyn, New York when I was not in school. He had dozens and dozens of tools all over the garage. I asked him why he needed so many. He told me each one did a different thing and you needed the right tools for the job. 

Years later when I took up gardening I was just as engrossed in my gardening tools as my father had been with his tools. Every April as I waited for mud-season to pass so I could attack the winter's wrath with glee, I took out my gardening tools and gave them a good cleaning. I admit to not always being able to afford the "right" tool for the job (case in point: when I could not afford a rototiller so I turned the garden beds with a pitch fork and shovel ... and had trouble walking upright for several days), I always got the best I could afford because while each and every one had a specific job, together they built me a beautiful garden and taught me a great deal about my strengths and talents at the same time.

As we get older, we need to stand back and take a look at how we want this next phase in our life to grow. Like the garden, we need the right tools to create the life we want. I've come up with a few I'd like to share with you:

Curiosity - this is not just a mindset for children and cats. We should never stop being curious. Learning new things about the world and ourselves should be a never-ending process. I've always wanted to be a gardener even when I was a child but the opportunity never presented itself until I was in my 40's and 50's. Then I got curious about how to go about it. Which brings us to the next tool which is ...

Learning - never stop learning. I don't care if you want to learn how to knit, bake, build a brick retaining wall, or jump out of an airplane ... never, never, stop learning. Ask questions. Look thinks up. Learn to Google with the best of the kids. Drag yourself into the 21st century of technology if you're not already there (I'm still struggling, but that's why I have grandchildren for a Geek Squad).

Awe - always maintain your sense of awe. Stand outside at night and look up at the stars. Watch a bird feeding her chicks. Look out at the ocean and feel its power. Remember that you are a part of all that as well, as powerful as the ocean and as bright as the stars, but also as gentle as that Mama bird.

Energy - move, move, move and keep on moving. Every day even if it's only for 20 minutes. Walk, run, swim, do yoga, dance, lift weights, do standing push-ups against the kitchen wall while you're waiting for the pasta to be done. A body in motion stays in motion and fuels you to do all the things you've always wanted to do.

Gratitude - I know we've touched on this one before but I thought it was a good idea to re-visit it. In this instance I am talking about being grateful for this time in our lives that we have been given, almost like a second chance. The kids are grown, the job is winding down and we have the opportunity to do anything, be anything, try anything. How cool is that? 

From the Boomer that helped re-define what it meant to be young, and who is now re-defining what aging means, I hand you my tools so you can create your own life garden. May it blossom and flourish into everything you want it to be.

And so it is.