As much time and energy as I spend trying to root out interesting things to do during our travels, I sometimes overlook doing the same thing right here at home in S. California. I had my first 'aha' about this during our recent L.A. Architectural Tour, and it happened again today.
Thanks again to our Lifelong Learning program, Mike and I went on a fascinating and free tour of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in nearby Pasadena yesterday. We spent a very enjoyable two hours learning about NASA/JPL's many missions to explore the planets in our own solar system, plus those mysterious things which lie beyond. We saw prototypes of many of their famous unmanned space exploration vehicles, including Galileo, which traveled to Jupiter, and the Mars rover, currently zipping around and sending back data from the planet of same name.
I've posted some photos and links below for those of you interested in learning or seeing more about this intriguing place, but the bigger point I want to make is how much of this stuff is out there for the taking once you go looking.
When I hear people make comments about their fears of being bored in early retirement, I want to shake my head in frustration. Because the only reason to ever be bored in early retirement is if you choose to be. There are so many opportunities to build a vibrant, satisfying post-working life it's almost beyond comprehension (sort of like outerspace!). The key is that you have to make the effort to seek it out. It won't passively or magically come to you. You have to initiate the effort. But once you do, things really do come cascading in from every direction. My experience is that for every new activity I take a chance and show up for, I generally walk away with another couple of ideas to consider.
Yesterday at NASA/JPL was no exception. After discovering this fascinating little gem of a place, and enjoying a wonderful tour, we were handed pamphlets advertising even more activities to consider. One was an annual open house that provided access to areas normally off limits to the general public. Another was an overview on a series of once a month lectures on topics ranging from forecasting earthquakes to telexploration. All free, and all opportunities we could engage in should we have interest.
When I first retired, I had a small handful of activities to keep me busy, but I kept plugging away, and little by little my calendar became more robust with each passing month. Fast forward to today, and I am now at a point where there is so much coming at me that I'm having to carve out time to just read and relax. Which is a great position to be in, in my opinion at least!
This week alone I've gone on a 35 mile training bike ride in preparation for an upcoming 55 mile biking event, attended a lecture on the pros and cons of genetically modified food, listened to a presentation on the nuances of Pinot Noir in preparation for an upcoming wine tasting social event, spent time practicing the recorder in the hope of eventually improving enough to join a performing group at our university, attended my first singing class, read The Merchant of Venice out loud with my Shakespeare class, attended lunch with a group of women that enjoy trying our new restaurants, tried my hand at Thai cuisine, engaged in a robust discussion about the legacy of slavery with my book club, and spent several hours online creating a photo book about our recent trip to Thailand.
I know, a lot of blah, blah, blah, since this is my life and not yours. But what I do think is of general interest is that every single one of these activities came to me after I retired. And adequate proof, I hope, that life in early retirement really is as great as you care to make it.
|NASA/JPL's campus lies at the base of the beautiful, and newly snow-covered, San Gabriel mountains.|
|I thought this sign was so cute!|
|The lab where Galileo and the Mars Rovers were built|
|Video of the surface of Venus, sent back by one of NASA/JPL's space probes|
|Mission control. How exciting was it to be looking down at the place where so much of recent history has occurred? Very!|
|Apparently our national government agrees with my sentiments on how exciting seeing mission control was, since it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985.|