Living to exist vs. living to live

Chris has been pretty cognizant of the fact that his dad is turning 70 next year, plus his mom is in her late 60s. Because of this, for the last few years, he’s been urging them to retire fully. His dad works for himself, while his mom works three days a week, so part time, but he’s been insistent in telling them that they should both just stop work altogether to do all the things they enjoy doing, plus discovering and picking up new hobbies they always talk about but think they don’t have time for. They are both reluctant to retire, though. I think his dad just loves what he does (it’s amazing… he’s an accountant who LOVES being an accountant!). His mom doesn’t want to give up her medical license perks. I get it. But at the same time, his urging them to retire to pursue their passions reminds me that my dad is actually turning 74 in just a few days. That means that my mom is 68.

And while both of my parents are pretty much retired, they don’t pursue any passions and instead, seem to let each day pass them in their usual mundane way. They complain about everything from the weather, to people, to politics. They gossip. They ask about people but never ask those people they are asking about. It’s a pretty miserable existence when I think about it, especially since they are both financially set and could pretty much do whatever they want to do at this point, but they choose not to. They could remodel or renovate their home. They could travel. They could actually work on the yard and make it into the beautiful garden it once was when my grandma cared for it. But the truth is that… they don’t seem to take pride or joy in literally anything. Their house is dilapidated. The yard looks like a disorganized mess with piles of dirt everywhere, a few plants that seem to be doing well, but their appearance is marred by all the ugly dying plants surrounding them. That house and its yard are literally just dying. It always makes me a little sad when I go home. When I bring it up to my mom, she gets mad and says I am negative, “just don’t talk about that. You’re going to upset me.” She says it as though I am provoking her when all I am doing is asking… what the hell are you doing with your life?

So Chris summed up his urging his parents to retire like this: He wants them to actually live life, not to just exist…. the way my parents do. And while that seems like a blunt, stabbing kind of comment, the truth is that… well, it’s the truth. My parents are living just to exist each day with no real path to anywhere. I’m not saying we all need to have goals to achieve when we’re in the later half of our lives, but in the very least, there should be some motivation to do things that we actually enjoy and are passionate about. And they don’t seem to have that. And that makes me feel sad for them.

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