“So, what are you going to do now?”
I have heard that question numerous times over the past 3 months since I announced my retirement from the Chattooga County School System after teaching Literature for the past 27 years. At 49 years old, I technically should still have a few good years before I become a broken-down, decrepit old man.
While I still enjoy teaching (and interacting with young people), I have begun to feel time catching up to me. There are so many things that I want do, places I want to see and goals that I want to accomplish that spending 8-10 hours per day in a classroom was beginning to feel like a strain. I do not want to call it wasting time, but I have begun to have a desire to move in a different direction. And it is through this choice that I have begun to explore the idea of true “happiness” and what it entails.
To begin with, what are some things that we think make us happy? Material possessions and money are items that do give us a temporary sense of fulfillment. We are happy when we get new phones or cars. We are happy when we receive our paycheck or go out for a good meal. However, generally speaking, these feelings do not last. Our new car comes with a payment book. We drop our phone and crack the screen. We like getting paid but the job becomes a headache and something we dread every day.
Sometimes, I hear people say that relationships and friends make them happy. However, we live in a society now with a divorce rate approaching 70%. I teach students from broken homes. I see people take advantage of those less fortunate. While I love my family and my small circle of friends, the most miserable times of my life have involved failed relationships. I see co-workers and kids alike totally unable to function due to choices made by other people which impact their lives.
Hmmmmm…….what could it be then? Throughout my study of this issue, the answer seems to literally come from within. We have to be happy with ourselves.
We know that life is going to give us moments of extreme joy as well as times of extreme pain and heartbreak. That is a fact. Over the past few months, I have been given blessing after blessing. My career is ending and I am moving into an exciting new part of my life. I have been accepted into a footrace called Badwater 135 (some of this blog will consist of my training for this event billed as “The World’s Toughest Footrace….but not this one). Badwater is a lifetime goal that I have worked toward since 1988 and seriously attempted to get in for the past 4 years. Google it if you are not a runner and interested in more details.
I also have a great group of friends and family that support me in my decisions. Right now I am checking all the temporary boxes of “happiness”. But these things are not what makes me happy.
In the second part of this series, I am going to introduce the three areas of life which I feel combine to bring us either lasting happiness or constant despair. While seemingly a harsh statement to make, I do not think that there is a lot of middle ground. The choices we make in these three areas will send us toward one direction or the other.
Thank you for reading. I’m looking forward to seeing you again in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, feel free to add me on Facebook or Instagram. I welcome comments and discussion…..just please, no politics. 😊
“The World’s Toughest Foot Race”
Covering 135 miles (217km) non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA, the Badwater® 135 is the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet. The start line is at Badwater Basin, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in North America at 280’ (85m) below sea level. The race finishes at Whitney Portal at 8,300’ (2530m), which is the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney summit, the highest point in the contiguous United States. The Badwater 135 course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 14,600’ (4450m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 6,100’ (1859m) of cumulative descent. Competitors travel through places or landmarks with names like Mushroom Rock, Furnace Creek, Salt Creek, Devil’s Cornfield, Devil’s Golf Course, Stovepipe Wells, Panamint Springs, Darwin, Keeler, Lone Pine, Alabama Hills, and the Sierra Nevada.
The 43rd edition is scheduled to take place Monday-Wednesday, July 19-21, 2021.