Good luck or rightful circumstance?…Accepting old age…Choices we make…

A rusty sailboat remains on the shore.

With only 29 days until we depart Savusavu to fly to the largest island of Viti Levu, in the Fiji chain of over 330 islands, we’ve started to feel as if time is flying faster now. 

The grocery store where we shop for a few items each week.

Living life in chunks of three months or more, or at times less, seems to have an effect of speeding up our sense of time, more than at any time in our lives. Perhaps, its as simple as old age creeping up on us interspersed with a lifetime of varied experiences that has a tendency to feel as if each day flies by way too quickly when little time is needed for thoughtful consideration of what comes next.

As one ages, generally, we know what’s next, barring any of life’s curve balls which often come hard and fast. In our youth, each day was a new challenge and we often felt we needed “good luck” to move through the paces.

We walked along a side street after spending time at the lagoon.

Now older, we realize that good luck is nice for fantasizing but pointless to expect. Our lives are what we make of them.  As much as we extol the virtues of “safari luck” much of it has occurred due to our efforts to be in the right place at the right time due to careful and diligent planning.

Did that unbelievable sunset photo magically appear for our photo taking?  Or, had we been watching for days to get the perfect shot?  Most often, it’s the latter. Serendipity is lovely. Coincidence is thought-provoking. None of it would transpire unless we made the effort to put ourselves in an advantageous position to grasp all of their benefits.

The reflection of the blue sky on the still water in the Savusavu lagoon.

The rest? Such as good health? Is that luck? Is it luck that the person who ate junk food all of their lives lived to the ripe age of 95, quietly passing in their sleep? Is it bad luck that someone like me who made a concerted effort all of my life to avoid illness and attain good health spent many years with illness and disability?

With my bad health reversed for over four years from a drastic change of diet, do I live on the precarious edge in anticipation of the “other shoe to drop?” I can’t. My newer, healthier self knows full well that stress can easily exacerbate any condition regardless of diet or lifestyle adaptation. It’s not luck. It’s a choice. And even then, with all my best efforts, it could change in a single minute.

A skinny nursing dog scrounging for food among the rocks.

As Tom walks this course with me varying only when dining out and aboard ship, he too knows the fragility of good health. For him, he’s developed a certain sense of confidence in the fact that good genes may play a role when his mother was 98 when she passed away in May 2008. I remind him he can’t count on his genes alone.  Lifestyle dictates the greater influence.

How do I know this? I’m no expert. But, it doesn’t take an expert to look around a roomful of seniors at a retirement community to see those enjoying life the most are active, conscientious about diet, and possessing a positive outlook on life. 

We often wonder who owns these boats?  Are they ex-pats, living in Fiji or visitors stopping for supplies after being out to sea?

Sure, in old age the skin may sag, the faces become lined with a lifetime of expression and sunlight, and the teeth yellowed if they’re still their own. But, the smiles are still the same, the love and hope in their hearts are still the same, and the desire to live every moment of life to the fullest remains constant, however much time is left.

Do we all naturally come to some peaceful acceptance that at some point, we’ll no longer be on the earth?  Yes, to those of us who find a spiritual path along the way which we particularly hang onto as the time nears, giving us hope that when “the fat lady sings” (please, excuse the expression), we’ll see the white light as the doors open to welcome us inside.

Some of the sailboats are in pristine condition.

For us, these thoughts and realities mean one thing…live to the fullest. And if that means working in a soup kitchen to feed the poor, delivering meals to the informed, or taking photos to share the treasures of this bountiful earth with others, we all have a privilege of making choices befitting who we are and who’ll we’ll eventually become. 

For those unable to reach out, perhaps sitting in a chair day after day, watching the latest talk show, old reruns on TV, or listening to the radio, unable to go out without help or not at all, they too are deserving of life’s bounty, if only in recalling and if possible, sharing those times of their lives that held meaning and purpose.

View across the Savusavu Harbour to Nawii Island where property is currently under construction.

Who are we to judge anyone’s choices? We live in a world of “political correctness” to the point of ad nauseam leaving us bereft of what we can and can’t express in our next breath when all that’s really required is dignity and respect ingrained into our beings, not all this rhetoric about “who’s right and who’s wrong.” 

We, Tom and I, are judged by others on occasion for our lifestyle…how could we possibly leave family behind to fulfill our own dreams? We could spend hours “defending” our choices. But, we choose not to do so. We simply chose a powerful overriding sense of adventure that we somehow had to fulfill…while we can.

View of Nawii Island across the harbor.

No luck is involved here. No good fortune was required for us to live this life on the move. It was earned. It was nurtured. We sacrificed a lot to achieve it, none of which we regret. It all revolved around choices and a desire for happiness and fulfillment in our older years that when we “stepped outside the box” was staring us in the face. We merely followed the path.

We can’t and don’t judge those who choose to spend their retirement sitting on a barstool in a local pub gabbing with old friends or hovering over the next episode of Dr. Phil. We all have the privilege of defining who we are through our daily lives and actions. 

If happiness is on the menu, choose it at your own discretion when, in doing so, there’s a price to pay. Hand over your cash or credit card without regret, knowing every moment was well worth every last penny spent.

Photo from one year ago today, November 7, 2014:

Every afternoon the sea turtles swam to the shore outside our condo in Maui. To see a video we shot of the turtles and more, please click here.

Comments and responses Good luck or rightful circumstance?…Accepting old age…Choices we make…

  1. Staci Finch Thompson

    That was a lovely post! Thank you for the well-stated reminder that life is, usually, the result of what we choose to make it.

  2. Jessica

    Staci, thank you for your much appreciated compliment. Life truly is what we make it and coming to that realization can take time and maturity and at times, hardship, to be able to come to the conclusion that we are in control of our destiny to a large degree. Thanks for writing. Your thoughtful insight and consideration of our posts is always appreciated.

    Warmest regards,
    Jess & Tom

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