A hope note
A retired scientist had invited me to a butterfly count.
The expedition wound through a waist-high-with-grass, teeming-with-life meadow. Our leader was a retired biology professor who has been organizing the region’s butterfly census for 20-plus years.
I photographed stunningly gorgeous lepidoptera that I would not have noticed had we not been intentionally seeking them. What I enjoyed most was seeing retirees thrill to spot and count and call the creatures by name: ‘I’ve got two cabbage whites to my left!’ ‘Here’s our first junonia coenia!’ I thought of a Joseph Campbell quotation: ‘If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there the whole while, waiting for you.’ Retirees are, like butterflies, free to follow their bliss.
I love what attorney Clarence Darrow, at age 61, said about retirement: ‘I have always yearned for peace, but have lived a life of war. I do not know why, excepting that it is the law of my being. I have lived a life in the front trenches, looking for trouble. The front trenches are disagreeable; they are hard; they are dangerous; it is only a question of days or hours when you are killed or wounded and taken back. But it is exciting. You are living; and if now and then you go back to rest, you think of your comrades in the fight; you hear the drum; you hear the cannon’s voice; you hear the bugle call; and you rush back to the trenches and to the thick of the fight. There, for a short time, you really live. It is hard, but it is life. Activity is life. Peace is death; and there is no complete peace excepting death.’
May you, retired or employed, young or old, find ‘ and follow ‘ your bliss.