How the move to a community felt to me
On the first day in my new retirement community, I was greeted by a neighbor in the hallway.
She remembered meeting other newcomers who had experienced difficult first days here without the necessary cookware to prepare a proper meal. So, she offered to lend me some of her own pots and pans.
Clearly, she was mistaking me for some kind of “kitchen goddess,” who could hardly wait to whip up a hot supper for her husband.
Actually, I was on my way to see what kind of meal had been whipped up in the café. I was so touched by her neighborliness that I was almost ready to accept the loaned pots and cook something. But I thought better of it and did not take advantage of her generous offer.
Because various mobility issues (walking and balance problems) have increased my vulnerability, and Stan, my husband, is more than ready to embark on a freer lifestyle, we have taken the leap and opted to move into a lovely independent living senior residence. We chose this one because we were charmed by the strong, caring community.
A difficult decision
This move has been a giant step, not without great loss. And, given a choice, I would have preferred to wait. We had always thought that our last home was going to be our forever home.
But in another few weeks that home of many years will be going on the market. The spectacular acre of environmental habitat, dotted with secret gardens that have been our Eden and spiritual retreat, will no longer be ours.
For now, I am learning to accept one of Buddhism’s “Noble Truths” — that impermanence itself is a part of life. I have come to believe that this truth represents a positive awareness that nothing lasts forever, and knowing this, we need to experience, and be grateful for, each of today’s joys.
The joys of today, for me, have been experiencing the welcoming friendliness of the residents and staff members here. Almost everyone stops by just to greet and exchange names.
Already, I have met fellow therapists and gardeners and heard many interesting stories. It’s starting to feel like I am becoming a member of a very large tribe, where everybody knows your name.
Kinder, gentler side
One resident I met commented that all the friendliness that she had encountered was starting to feel like she had just been dropped into the Central Casting set for “The Stepford Wives.”
Actually, I think what she was experiencing, but not recognizing, is an environment where people are enjoying far less pressure, competition and stress in their lives and thus are able to respond to others with the kinder, gentler part of themselves.
It has been experiences like that, this past week, that are helping to heal the sad feelings of loss. I am again reaffirmed in my belief in the old Zen saying, “Leap and the net will appear.”
After making the leap that had to be made, I have been embraced by the net of community. I may have lost a garden, but I have gained a tribe.
Alice G. Miller, a psychotherapist in private practice, is the author of four books. Read her blog at voiceoftheturtledove.com.