10 lessons from a retirement village

December 10, 2014 § 9 Comments

I’ve been staying at my parents’ retirement village for a couple of days, and it’s been a welcome change of pace for me. It’s so different from the world I inhabit at the moment: life is slower here, and not just because the village is peopled by those in their twilight years.

I’ve been watching the comings and goings: the morning and evening constitutionals, the friendly greetings ringing across driveways, the groups of women who seem to be permanently shaking out and folding tablecloths at the community hall a block or so away, and here are some of the things I’ve learnt:
1. A cup of tea should always come with a biscuit – two if possible.
2. When good music is playing, you get up and dance with whomever is nearest – even if it’s 9.30am. Life is too short to just sit and applaud.
3. You keep an eye out for your neighbour, and check up on them if they’ve not been on evidence for a day or two, because that’s what neighbours do.
4. It’s always a good idea to go out for a coffee or a quick meal with friends, even if you are supposed to be at the bank or the medical aid. Friends always trump admin, and the bank can wait till tomorrow.
5. We can all do something for someone else – disconnect their car battery if they’re going to be away, water their plants, feed their cat, buy groceries or cook them a meal when they’re feeling poorly. They’re small things, and they don’t cost a lot, but they can mean the world to the recipient.
6. A lot of pleasure can be gained from a tiny garden. Big isn’t always better.
7. Taking care of an animal, whether it’s owning pets or simply feeding and watering the wild birds, can feed your own soul. We need to look out for our fellow species.
8. You really don’t need all the stuff you think you need, there’s a lot to be said for a simpler life – less stuff, less housework, less stress.
9. Your health is the most important thing you have. Look after it while you’re young and old age will be easier to navigate.
10. Any excuse for a party is a good one. Life is there to be celebrated.

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