Next week, our daughter Emily will leave us. As a family, on Saturday, July 11th, we will spend a day moving her few things to an apartment of her own way over on the other side of Los Angeles. There is a lot mixed up in this; many thoughts and emotions as my wife and I prepare to bid our grown daughter farewell as she heads out into the world on her own. She is more than eager to go, though we know the years ahead for her will be challenging as she finishes college on her own and finds her way safely through this more dangerous and uncertain world. But she knows she always has us. As long as Yumiko and I are around Emily will always have a safe port in a storm, and a warm meal and a soft bed, and two happy little doggies eager to see her whenever she decides to visit.
Now, Yumiko and I must decide what to do with our time after our daughter is grown and gone... As a couple, we will engage more deeply in the shared activities of living which have always defined our life together; first as boyfriend and girlfriend, then husband and wife, mother and father, and now, as a pair of aging senior citizens. In fact, we have already begun this transition; as two weeks from now (a week after Emily leaves) Yumiko and I will say goodbye to our current two-bedroom apartment to move into a smaller, one-bedroom unit with a lovely patio. The new place is reminiscent of our first home together in Santa Barbara way back in 1992, and we've already begun planning our garden, and our interior, and what we will do on Saturdays and Sundays, and how we will fill the time in retirement which will formally begin in just six years.
But also, we must think each about what we will do as individuals to fill the days and hours after our direct parenting work is done. How shall we each spend the precious hours of our coming decline into old age? How to make good use of time which has become more precious now with our awareness that it is fast running out.
To the life aimed at the consumption and contemplation of literature. Such an honest and good use of time.
For myself, I will read. It is time now to catch up with that long list of books I've been meaning to get to. To this end, Yumiko is buying me a nice chair for our new apartment where I can sit instead of the hard chair at the dining room table. And I have already assembled a nice stack of select reading titles, and a few months back started reading these in earnest. I'm now well underway with my personal retirement mission; to read, to know, and think over the very best writing I can find; to fill my remaining days with input, thought and observation; and with great stories and ideas; and to waste as few moments as possible before it all goes to black and my return to nothing is complete.
My name is Kurt Bell.
You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.
Be safe... But not too safe.
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