My railcard reflections
By Andy Howie
I have, in my hand, a senior railcard and it belongs to me! I reached the significant milestone of 60 years of age during the summer, and it gave me an opportunity to pause for thought, so I would like to share with you some of the things I’ve been contemplating.
I have questioned whether I am coming to the end of my working life, and I have dropped a day of work to look after my grandchildren, but I have no desire to retire as I’m really enjoying work. I know I’m in the twilight of my career, but it feels a good, a freer place to be. I am more accepting of what I bring and more comfortable in my own skin.
I celebrated my birthday with more intention during a family holiday this year and it helped crystallise the significance of 60 years on this earth. I looked back and I looked forward, and I did it all with a sense of celebration alongside my wife, children and grandchildren. I thought about my career and all the lovely people I’ve met and worked with, and I thought about the future and the richness I can bring to my work. I still mess up, make mistakes, fumble words – but, on the whole, I feel confident in my capabilities.
The days of the week I now spend with my grandchildren – the hardest, but most fulfilling – have renewed my sense of curiosity and inspired me to take that curiosity into work with me. And it makes me feel excited about the future and what may emerge. I know I would like to retain some lightness to life and savour time spent with others. In fact, ‘savour’ is a word I would use to describe my attitude to family and work right now. I feel really grateful that I am able to be involved in the lives of my children and grandchildren and glad that I have my work. If I can stay in touch with that sense of gladness, of gratitude, I think it will be so helpful and stand me in good stead for a positive future.
An old friend sent a birthday card to me and wrote a very complimentary message about the impact I’d had on his life. We then talked together and shared our thoughts about our friendship. It was another moment to savour and made me wonder why we had waited so long!
Reflection at 60 years old is a significant and healthy process for me, and it feeds my gladness and gratitude. I’m even grateful for my railcard and the 30% it saves me!
As I get older, the inevitability of dying does cross my mind now and then – especially as the NHS kindly take more of an interest in you at 60 – but there is no feeling of crisis. This week, I attended a funeral of a friend who I met up with once a year, as part of a group of men who have an annual get together to consider what life is bringing to each of us. We create a reflective hospitable space with each other, and next year there will be a significant empty chair for us to experience together.
Life can be tough, and it can make me weary at times, but there is also much to savour. I guess I am well over halfway through my life, and I find myself asking ‘why wouldn’t I want to enjoy these years?’, so I will wander into the future with a lightness in my step and a heart filled with gladness.