Retirement has been a discovery of beauty for me. I never had the time before to notice the beauty of my grandkids, my wife, the tree outside my very own front door. And, the beauty of time itself.
As professor friend of mine e-mailed me the other day and asked if I had any suggestions or warnings for him he retires this summer. Having retired often I naturally had some thoughts. Since in my case I would have been better off if I had applied the suggestions to myself before I retired so I thought I would share them with you in case you face the same challenges. Here is what I sent my friend, today’s additional comments are italicized.
Having retired four times I learned the following:
- Don’t let your things-to-do list drive you, for if you do it may soon empty and leave you not knowing what to do next. Some of us spend full time in early retirement trying to do everything that needs to be done that have been waiting. In my experience it is wise to not make it a full time job until there is nothing left.
- Don’t over plan, join others, go to lectures and meetings, visit new restaurants and the like. Let the community take you to wherever your evolving interests lie. Far too many of us seem to feel we need to totally plan our new lives and as such miss some of the best things out there. I find it is much better to just relax, roam and discover things that you never knew where out there for you.
- Don’t subscribe to every magazine and buy every book only to end up depressed because you are surrounded by stacks of unread material that is no longer timely. I felt like when I retired I would have almost unlimited leisure hours so I subscribed to everything, added more books to my “Need to read someday” piles only to find I had even less time than I often had in the past. Feeling I had to read what I bought it became a problem reading the five weekly newsmagazines weeks after events and finding that I was always behind the times. I even felt guilty if I didn’t at least try. I solved the problem by letting most of my subscriptions lapse.
- Travel while you can, see more plays (I especially enjoy my season tickets to Civic, they are surprisingly professional and a real bargain for old guys), we also especially enjoy some of the Beef and Boards productions. Retirement should not be work, it is a time to reward yourself and hopefully you’ll find as I did that your retirement career is the best career you ever had.
- Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. The time I spend with the Salvation Army and other organizations provides a constant source of new friends from all walks of life. It also provides the opportunity to do some meaningful work for others. As we have often discussed, people make the difference. Social interaction while sharing experiences is like mining diamonds. There are hundreds of good and interesting people out there waiting to meet you, but they are not going to come knocking on your door.
I would also add, have as much fun as possible, don’t take life too seriously and don’t get mad, it’s not worth it. Also be all means let yourself be yourself.
Stay well, be well and do well.
Retire from work, but not from life
A man was lying on the psychiatrist’s couch as his therapist addressed him.
"Well, Jim. I’m pleased to announce that this will be our final session. I believe that you finally are cured of your paranoia."
"Yes, doctor. I am."
"I remember how you used to think that men in black were following you everywhere. But you don’t believe that anymore, do you?"
"No, doctor. I don’t"
"I remember also how you used to think that black helicopters were hovering over your house. But you don’t believe that anymore either, do you?"
"No, doctor. I don’t"
"Finally, I remember how you used to think that CIA agents were monitoring your mail, bugging your phone, and snooping into your affairs. But you don’t beleieve that anymore either, do you?"
"No, doctor. I don’t. Thanks to your therapy, I no longer harbor such delusions. In fact, you’ve been so helpful to me, that I’m really sorry that I have to kill you now," said Jim, as he pulled out a gun.
The psychiatrist was shocked. "Wait a minute. Why do you have to kill me?"
"You know too much."
Do Roman paramedics refer to IV’s as "4’s"?
A woman named Emily renewing her driver’s license at the County Clerk’s office was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation, She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself. "What I mean is," explained the recorder, "do you have a job, or are you just a . . . .?"
"Of course I have a job," snapped Emily. "I’m a Mom."
"We don’t list ‘Mom’ as an occupation. ‘Housewife’ covers it," said the recorder emphatically.
I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation….this time at our own Town Hall. The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like, "Official Interrogator" or "Town Registrar". "What is your occupation?" she probed. What made me say it, I do not know? The words simply popped out.
"I’m a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations"
The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair, and looked up as though she had not heard right. I repeated the title slowly, emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.
"Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your field?"
Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, "I have a continuing program of research, (what mother doesn’t), in the laboratory and in the field, (normally I would have said indoors and out).
I’m working for my Masters! , (the whole darned family), and already have four credits, (all daughters).Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, (any mother care to disagree?), and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money."
There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk’s voice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.
As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants — ages 13, 7, and 3. Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model, (a 6 month old baby), in the child-development program, testing out a new vocal pattern. I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy! And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another Mom."
Motherhood . . ..What a glorious career! Especially when there’s a title on the door.
Does this make grandmothers "Senior Research Associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations" and great grandmothers "Executive Senior Research Associates also think it makes Aunts "Associate Research Assistants”?
You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you like gambling, the worst thing you can do is bring your spouse with you to the casino.
If you lose, they get mad.
If you win, they want half!
Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty.
It merely moves from their faces to their hearts.
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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The editor is somewhat senile.
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