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Growing Old in Westchester

Updated on October 14, 2018
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Jack is retired. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years. His articles have over 120,000 views.

Introduction

This essay is my way of imparting some wisdom to others about growing old and staying active and being happy. I thought about writing this a while ago. One thing lead to another and I just kept putting it off. Now that I am 67 years old, I better put it down on paper before I forget.

- Oct. 2018

My Idea of Happiness

I am truly blessed and I thank God everyday for my current life. I am healthy and retired, having had a long wonderful career. My wife and I raised a great family, with three adult children all independent and productive members of our society. What else can I ask for?

I read once that happiness is a choice. That is to say, we can choose to think a glass to be half full instead of half empty. That is a great way to think about it. Not being too philosophical, it is so true. We do have control over our state of mind. We can let our short comings depress us or we can choose to be happy with what we have.

Everything in life is relative. Our views of the world is relative to where we are in life, where we live. Therefore, our happiness is relative to our environment. A person living in China has different view about happiness. When I was on vacation a few years ago and I visited a small village in western China, the locals live in the most primitive surroundings from my perspective. Yet, they seem perfectly happy. They have very little modern conveniences or money or education or status. They live a simple life. Happiness to them is as simple as seeing a blond haired foreign visitor to their small village.

In my own case, I remember when I was small and growing up in Taiwan, happiness was playing a game of marbles with the neighbors. Winning made me happy. As I grew up, in each stage of my life, my sense of hapiness changed and evolved. I was happy when we immigrated to America at age 10. I was happy getting my first job as a paperboy at age 13. I was happy participating on the high school math team. I was happy graduating HS with high honors and getting in to a free college, CCNY. I was happy making the Varsity Fencing team and winning my bouts. I was happy graduating and earning my bachelor of Engineering degree. I was happy to get a job working for IBM. I was happy buying my first brand new automobile a sporty Toyota Celica.

At each stage of my life, I was growing and my expectations grew and what made me happy changed and grew as well. Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of disappointments. Not getting the grade I wanted. Not winning a key bout that would get me to the finals. Not getting the promotion I was expecting...

Now in the autumn of my years, I have a chance to reflect and reminisce. I had a great and fulfilling life. I am happy with myself. I am satisfied with what I accomplished. I am proud of my career and I am happy to make all the friends and colleagues along the way. I am content.

As we all experienced, growing old is not fun. Not being able to see or read the small prints. Not being able to hear conversations across the room. Not being able to climb up that hill or flight of stairs with ease. With each passing year, we loose a little skill and a little independence.

Yet I am happy. What is the secret? It is very simple really. I choose to be happy. I choose to look on the bright side. I choose to be optimistic. I choose to be positive.

The “power of positive thinking“ was a popular book written by Norman Vincent Peale. It is so true.

In my retirement years living is Westchester, I found new happiness. I found happiness in the simple things in life. Sitting in my backyard and enjoying my garden. Hiking in the woods by Teatown Reservation. Driving to and shopping at Woodbury Commons Outlet mall. Visiting the local library and borrowing and reading a great book. Taking a leisure drive along the Hudson river. Attending a colloquium at the Palisades campus of the LDEO.

Getting back to fencing as an exercise. Helping and volunteering at our local Archives. Playing my harmonica after years of neglect. Organizing a reunion with some of my old teammates. These are some simple activities that bring me happiness and joy. I have very low expectations these days. A simple meal and a cold beer will make my day. Seeing grand neices and nephrews at birthday parties make me smile.

Helping others and donating to good causes are a great way to feel happy. It seems counter intuitive but it is a fact of life. Giving is better than receiving, especially in our old age. Who needs all that stuff anyway. After all, you can’t take it with you.

A wise financial advisor said, plan your retirement such that you run out of your money the day you die.

A Slice of Heaven

Charles Point, Peekskill NY

Summary

My life in Westchester is wonderful. I really think I hit the jackpot of life. To be retired and living is a great county, so close to NYC and having the means to do what I want. How great is that?

I am thankful for living in the county of Westchester, in the State of NY, in the United States of America in the year 2018. We are an exceptional nation and we are the light and freedom of the world. That shining city on the hill as Ronald Reagan once said. After 30 years, we are still that city shining even brighter. Under president Trump, we are reaching new heights and America is Great again. God bless the USA.

© 2018 Jack Lee

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