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Returning to the Wonder of Childhood

The part of us that creates is childlike. It is filled with awe, alert to new experiences, and mesmerized by the sensory wonders of our environment: the otherworldly blanket of fresh white snow, the enticing smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven, the crispness of a new pencil, the mesmerizing allure of a colorful paperweight. For me, Victorian houses awaken a strong memory: the fascinating corners within my childhood home in Libertyville, Illinois. The house was built by a woodworker whose artistry appeared in secret compartments, elaborate carvings, and hidden panels. It was thrilling to tap a special spot on the wall and watch it spring open to reveal the stereo behind it. Roaming through the house was its own adventure— there was an artful effect around every corner just waiting to be discovered.
Young children discover one thing at a time. The tiniest detail sparks wonder. Because a young child doesn’t have the same awareness of time as an adult does, there isn’t a sense of “hurrying” to learn something. Adults often put pressure on themselves to learn quickly or come to a solution immediately.
Just-retired adults are often leaving a structured life where they were an expert— and entering a non-structured life where they may feel, to some degree, at loose ends. The shock of retirement can be startling. Suddenly, endless bolts of empty time loom on the horizon. The possibilities are infinite— and this can be a very overwhelming proposition. Just-retired people almost unanimously describe the early days— even months— of retirement as an acute adjustment.
Richard, on his first day of retirement after a long stint as a recreation director, woke up feeling aimless after many years of daily agendas. When his wife asked him what he might do that day, he replied, “I think I’ll take a bike ride.” And when she asked where he might go, he realized he didn’t have an answer. “I don’t have anywhere to go,” he admitted.
Victor ended a career as an engineer, and in the early days of his retirement he repeatedly wandered into his home office, looking through his books from work. His daughter called to check in, asking how he was enjoying his retirement. “I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do,” he told her.
It is important to be very gentle with yourself, especially in the early days of a transition. In fact, there is no such thing as being too gentle with yourself at this time.
Many retirees haven’t realistically anticipated the trauma that may be caused by excessive free time. Suddenly left to their own devices, they may find themselves moody and depressed, which in turn leads them to judge themselves negatively. “I should be doing much better,” they tell themselves, struggling to find self-compassion. How much better it would be if, instead of harsh judgments of their failings, they could say to themselves gently, “Of course I’m in shock. I’m in the midst of a huge adjustment.”
It is human nature to crave a sense of purpose, and without one, it is natural that panic might set in as you begin to feel adrift. This is where Morning Pages, Artist Dates, and Walks become a lifeboat. These three basic tools create a structure for your day and for your week. Within this structure, a new ideas and opportunities will arise. At the same time, as you answer simple questions to build your Memoir, you will begin to discover new interests, desires, and direction. Alternatively, you may find yourself reawakening long-lost dreams and passions. A thrilling journey awaits.

from It's Never Too Late to Begin Again


9 Comments on "Returning to the Wonder of Childhood"

  1. Paula Rodriguez says:

    I woke up this morning with this post of yours and it has fullfilled me with joy and hope!. I’m in my 38s and I am currently trying to do a real twist in my professional career. I’m a journalist and a psychologist as well but my jobs were always focused in the “IT world”, something that I want to leave behind now. These last days I woke up and look for that agenda that I have been used to follow and which is gone now, but I’m creating a new one, trying not to loose faith along this new path.
    Thanks for your words, Julia!.

  2. I lived in Libertyville for 15 years! Which house was it?

  3. I am in the process of retiring and reading this, this morning, reflected a bit of what I am feeling. Time, no real purpose or direction. A whole new learning of how to live taking place. It was reassuring to read this is part of the process, a challenge.

  4. It is really never too late! Working through the Artist’s Way I discovered my latent inner Stand Up Comic! I have done 8 sets since March 12, 2018. I am still shocked, but not surprised!

  5. I have picked up The Artist’s Way for the first time. That part where you talk about ‘amazing coincidences’ is true! Since I’ve been working the program (in my 2nd week), I have received an offer to write a chapter of a textbook and… I think I’m going to go for it! Thank you!

  6. Wow. This is exactly where I’m at except I didn’t consciously retire and I’ve been many years in it. Written two books self-published and keep a regular blog and now trying to start a podcast. And yet I still struggle with the fact that I spend all day sitting around lying around feeling like I’m not doing anything. I take lots of walks I live on the water I have the perfect writers life (I’m not currently working as I have some savings to live off of). But I have to keep reminding myself that I am retired from other careers as well as child-rearing and that is partly why I have all this free time. This post that I just found today is so awesome. Thank you for being you and always being there! It is your books and morning pages that led me to this life, as well as a divorce, and the subject matter I write about.

  7. I liked two things in your articles. To think that in the past we can find valid motivations and, talking about retirement, the importance of having goals. A life without goals is blocked and you risk getting stuck in your thoughts, and sometimes, if you can not find your motivation, it’s nice to ask for a hand.

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