It's the fourth anniversary of my retirement. How could it be so long since I walked away from my desk at UCLA -- when the memories are still so vivid?
How could we be looking at our fifth blazing summer here in rural Arizona?
How could time be flying by so fast?
And yet....the time has brought a changing perspective of life in retirement.
It no longer feels like an open-ended vacation, but regular life.
Arizona no longer feels like an exotic vacation destination, but home.
I have fewer illusions, whether they be of recapturing lost youth or creating a circle of close friends here.
My weight is not going to melt off without more effort, more vegetables, more exercise, less wishing.
And knowing your neighbors -- as I longed to do in the anonymity of our former suburban Los Angeles neighborhood -- does not always make them friends.
And one can be as happy or as unhappy in a lovely new home as it was in the old one.
Life, with all its ups and downs, discoveries, disappointments, joys and sorrows, goes on at an alarmingly rapid pace.
And yet, my prevailing sentiment on this fourth anniversary is gratitude.
I'm grateful that, despite the impact of the financial crash on our savings and those of so many others, we had the resources to retire anyway.
I'm grateful that, four years after retiring, both Bob and I are still healthy and active, still intellectually curious, still delighting in the time to pursue our passions for learning, for his music, for my writing.
I'm grateful for the good friends I have made here and, especially, for the old friends whose love has endured through the physical distance between us.
I'm grateful to be doing work that I love, to have another book coming out from a major publisher next fall, to have another chance to pursue a career that has meant so much to me for five decades.
We have no guarantees. I have friends who have not yet been able to retire or whose health has failed just as they were poised to pursue long-deferred dreams of travel and volunteering. Sometimes life changed in a minute. And in a day or a minute, life could change irrevocably for any of us.
But today life is grand. And I'm so grateful for every minute!