This empty nest thing has left me lots of time and headspace to do some thinking about how I got to this point, where I've been and where we're going. When we had kids around you sort of crash through life putting out fires, meeting physical and later, emotional needs and falling into bed at the end of the day. With our daughter in another state and Ben 70 miles away, it's all over now, except for the worrying...a lifelong thing, of course.
Thankfully I had a significant change in my work situation in the past year, which occupied much of my time and thoughts. Even that has settled down now (a bit) and I have even begun to assess how I got to this place in my career. Don't get me wrong, I still love my job, it's just, like most people, you never know where your career path will take you. It's a winding road.
I think about the series of events that brought me to Wisconsin. I think about the twists and turns that brought my wife to me from NY. I think about friends that have come and gone and come back again.
Every Saturday morning, my wife and I go for a coffee date. It has become a ritual I cherish, but the topics have become significantly different than they were even two years ago. Lately we've been talking about our future together, where we want to live, what we want to see (travel-related), our expectations for personal growth, post-retirement and even what would happen if one of us died. It is a great source of reconnection and gives me someone to talk about the deeper things in live with.
I just find it a little odd talking about old people things when I'm not old. (Sarc.)
It is a coming to terms with the fact that life is a vapor and we need to seize what's left of it. I am more conscious every day of how lucky I am to have it. And while the struggles of the day, (people, money, job stuff, cars, kids, dealing with this godawful political climate, etc) are not to be ignored, I know that there is a higher purpose to all of it.
So I do what I can. I am increasingly cognizant of my face-time with others. At the end of the day, it is one of the richest parts of life. Coffee with friends, a listening ear, a word of encouragement. I refuse to fall into the negative social media crap that is SO prevalent these days. (If you're doing it to "help raise awareness" you're doing it wrong. I don't go there to get a hard shine on my world view. That is set and you aren't changing it. -end of rant.)
I don't know when the introspective effects of our empty nest will taper off, but I am using them for reflection and forward looks. I realize I am incredibly lucky and blessed to be alive and doing fine in middle class America. I take none of it for granted and am aware that all of it could change in one heartbeat or unfortunate accident. So I plan on continuing to live it hard and make sure people know how much they mean to me. Because in the end, they're all I've got.
So thanks to each of you. You bring depth and richness to my life and I'm lucky to have you in my life.