Being retirees, we know a few people who are not comfortable with their new role. However, most of our friends are. Those who have adjusted the best had multiple hobbies or sport activities in the past. A lot of them hiked, walked, skated, volunteered, belonged to book groups, traveled, etc. and are doing more of it in their retirement. All it takes, really, is to check out the many activities regularly posted in one’s town or city.
My husband, a scientist, is writing a book, penning his thoughts on many issues, for family eyes only, trying to make sense of the universe we live in. He bought a student-type violin and is teaching himself how to read music and play a bit. He also spends one hour a day learning Italian via Duolingo, an hour a day working out on his equipment, and the rest of the time being my caregiver as hips and spines are showing wear and tear after 72 years. This was not part of the retirement plan but is a messy reality.
My husband has been disciplined his entire life and is spending his retirement doing a lot of things he never had time for. He also invited three friends to meet at a pub about four years ago to discuss the state of the world, science, etc. Unfortunately, this took on a life of its own with about 15 showing up, which was not the plan, so he seldom attends as he is not a particularly social person.
I am our social director because I do enjoy getting together with friends, planning travels, budgeting our retirement funds, and the like.
Because of a couple of big surgeries, my husband and I have been forced to spend more time together. It has brought us closer. In spite of huge differences in our interests, we still enjoy each other's company. After seven retirement years together, we feel very lucky.
Execrable has been one of my favorite words for years — so meaty and forceful.
Firstly OMG, so “many” on the list. If I can deal with half of them in the next 30 years I’ll be happy. I’m going to print them, to keep them in mind so I can cross them off — except for “seeking vengeance.” I’m holding onto that one. If it’s good enough for the Wild West, it’s good enough for me.
After 28 years of single parenting, I’m living solo and mulling that over.
Massive change, and realize that since I turned 50 I’ve been operating on this principle of spending time with people who bring me joy — and making a real effort to do so. Also a lot of letting go.
Luckily for me, I have friends in many places so have been traveling a lot.
I’m not retiring, YET, but I am certainly committed to downsizing, simplifying, and prioritizing — all the while adjusting to this change of role.
Objects that instantly earn my affection tend to be things made by my children, regardless of workmanship. I have a pair of toilet paper tubes glued vertically to a Bristol-board base. This was made for me by my oldest son when he was very young, as a pencil holder, and I continue to use it as one. My daughters have made me T-shirts over the years that occupy a treasured place in my wardrobe. And my youngest son has sent me many photos that I treasure. But of course, stuff from your kids garners affection.
Oddly, I am also getting very affectionate toward something I have never seen: a piece of land I bought recently in Nova Scotia. Partly, that’s because the photos and maps indicate that it’s endlessly interesting and beautiful, with a history that I am slowly learning. And the timing was right for that piece of land to engage me as I disengage from my work life of so many years.
As always, I like the energized tone, the style, and the determination to be of help.
I find the word “retirement” to be a double-edged sword. One edge is that it's well-established, beyond the power of a few people to dislodge it. It immediately conveys its meaning: stepping back from career and into voluntariness or leisure. So the phrase “I write a blog about the challenges and opportunities of retirement” instantly announces volumes of possible content and says a lot about your market. Anything else seems to require additional explanation. The other edge is the visceral pain the word seems to cause some people, and that “retirement” doesn’t seem to adequately describe the mixed lives that people in this cohort are living, and that for many people it conveys shrinking, rather than expanding and self-realizing, which many other people feel.
For my part, I have no problem with the word “retirement.” Words have only so much power to describe the referent. If I tell someone that I’m retired, and they picture puffy slippers (I have some on right now), I don't really care. A lot of the value of this phase is in our movement away from convention and social pressure.
But you want to influence and assist, so I suppose it's important that you not use negative trigger-words. Your new “About” description sounds good to me.
Interestingly, I was familiar with the squatting concept. Part of the pre-chemotherapy deluge of information is about side-effects, one of which is terrible constipation. Getting those feet elevated makes a difference! The Japanese have known this all along.
Re: Eliminating Wisdom
I think I saw the Squatty Potty video years ago. Seems like longer ago than 2011 but, hell, that’s already eight years. (That's one thing about getting old. Time is relative. I think about this a lot. We were born in the decade after WW2, and as a kid, that seemed like a different century. Now, 2009 seems like yesterday.)
Speaking of 2009, we got a new toilet that year for the en suite. It was a little taller and we were told it's the thing to have for when you get older, making it easier to get up and down. The thing is (and I didn't really think about it at the time) it was less satisfying to use! This potty ad answers that.
Re: Eliminating Wisdom
My husband and I discovered the positioning phenomenon when we read the book, Gut by Giulia Enders. It WAS life changing. Both of us now have “squat” assists in our home bathrooms. I scan friends’ facilities for something to use (yes, a waste bin turned upside down can work in a pinch) and otherwise it’s me on tippy toes to get the closest approximation in public washrooms.
Re: Growing Up
This is a deep, evocative piece. Thanks. I’m finding that while thinking about it, thinking stops, and I’m left with the feeling-tone of maturity, the feeling-tone of the transition from boaster to survivor (to the extent I can grasp these things, that is).
Funny, it’s generally true that boasting subsides with age. Maybe there are ten reasons for that, but Lefsetz captures the gist of it well: “everybody's on their own trip, and none of us are better than any other and it all doesn't matter.”
Solomon’s confusion raises the question: why not just make the transition from bulletproof fighter to adult in an instant, tear off the bandage, go gentle into that good night, and be content with its compensations?
And here, your final quote in your weekly wrap answers: “it’s really like learning an instrument that has never existed until you were born. No one can tell you how to play that instrument.”
So, we can’t make the change all at once, because we don’t know what the final “I” will feel like, what it will value, what its silences will be filled with. We have to discover these things bit by bit.
Re: Growing Up
I have asserted many times that I refuse to grow up in the sense of becoming staid, stodgy, stingy, and stuck in my ways. That’s not to say I am unaware of my age — I have had it regularly brought front and center because many of my favorite pursuits have become unavailable to me. Cycling, volleyball, hiking, canoeing... all gone because of failing knees. But I saw it coming many years ago and now accept my limitations in what I hope is manifest maturity, rather than sour grapes. The trick to not growing up, I think, is to maintain a fresh, inquisitive, and adventurous mindset that allows happiness to happen.
Re: To What End?
A friend just forwarded me a link to your blog. LOVE reading your thoughts and musings. Excited to read more. As an anatomy/body-moving geek, I want to comment on piece about the psoas muscle. Yes, we must keep it long, but also strong! I have found that too many people (me included!) mostly use the outer hip flexors, so the psoas doesn’t have to work. Engaging the deeper muscles as we get older keeps our bodies more functional and vital. Hip hip, hurray!
Great filter, in that it will reduce pain. Decreasing lies and unkindness is undoubtedly of great importance.
My mind raises many quibbles:
Is it okay if the truth or falseness of the utterance is not important? A joke or story can be false. “Once upon a time there was a witch” or “A man walks into a bar carrying a black hole under his arm.”
A question is neither false nor true. “Can I borrow your hat?” Is the point actually to not tell a falsehood intending to be believed?
Does an utterance really have to be necessary? Was it necessary for Martin Luther King to give his “I have a dream” speech? If speech needs to be necessary to be justified, don’t you eliminate almost all speech other than shouted warnings? And even with those, who defines “necessary”?
Does every utterance need to be kind, or just not unkind? For example, is it okay to say, “I need to buy an umbrella”?
Again, though, we lie and are far too unkind. Those problems definitely need fixing.
Re: A Valuable Discipline to be Worn Loosely
Three winners this week. Kinda miss getting them daily.
Regarding the concept of sliding back to analog... I agree. Digital photos are so easy and cheap, they have no value anymore. That, at least, is a justification for social media — as a place to share pictures so they don’t just get snapped and buried on a hard drive.
The more difficult questions though are related to The Three Gates of Speech. It's a seemingly simple and elegant concept. And yet buried in there are three very un-simple concepts: truth, necessity, and kindness.