Decades ago, one of
the first dates Billy and I went on was a 50 mile hike through the
Mountains in California called the Skyline to the Sea Trail. One
hikes through these beautifully rounded coastal mountains with views of giant
redwoodsand the Pacific Ocean weaving in and out on the path.
We both enjoy nature
and physical activity, and I think underneath the idea of doing this 5 day
camping/hiking trip so early in our relationship was to see if either of us – or
both – had what it took to complete it together as a couple. Could we handle
weather changes and the unexpected along the way? How would each of us deal with
fatigue or stress? Or long hours together with “no escape”?
I was confounded and
surprised to find that Billy packed a whole frozen chicken and a bottle of white
wine for our trip. The frozen chicken kept the wine cool and we ate the bulk of
the meal the first night. The remaining nights he prepared delicious 3 course
meals via our little folding aluminum mess kits.
Personally, I was
used to things like trail mix, energy bars and canned beans so this new approach
to camping food delighted me. We were both young with vigorous bodies but there
was still the daily pounding on our knees and blisters on our feet. Not to
mention pitching our tents nightly and cocooning in our sleeping bags on the
We were able to
entertain ourselves with the striking beauty of the
hike, conversation together and self-reflection. At the
end of the hike we were both satisfied that we could go
through the unexpected and long physical tasks together
and come out the other side as friends.
The unknown in
Some of our Readers
write to say that they are still afraid to take the leap into retirement. They
want to prepare for and support
every possible circumstance so all bases
will be covered. Their idea is that "no surprise is the best surprise."
But that is not
always a realistic approach.
retirement is similar to beginning a long hike together. You are on the edge of
the unknown and must rely on partnership,
solutions to problems as they
come up, communication with each other, a sense of humor and self-reliance.
If you have taken care of yourselves for this long in your lives, it’s not a far
reach to think you’ll do fine in the new circumstances of retirement too.
Whether there are ups
and downs, you still know that you can pull through.