I can’t say I wasn’t warned about retirement.
Old-timers told me I would be busier than when I was working full time, that I would be thinking about going back to work just so I could take a day off.
I invariably responded with a cursory, “Yeah. That’s what I hear,” but I didn’t really see how. I couldn’t imagine how retirement chores could eat up the 50 to 60 hours a week I routinely worked for the newspaper in my editorial years.
What I could imagine were weekly fishing trips, frequent vacation jaunts out West and lots of time to write the next Great American Western novel.
Of course, I was wrong, and the old-timers were right. Four years into retirement, I’ve not been fishing a half-dozen times, I’ve not written anything but a few farm features and my weekly columns, and I’ve not been any farther west than Ponca City, Okla.
Yeah, I was warned, but nobody told me how difficult it would be to retire — to simply slam on the brakes and slide to a dead stop — and I’ve yet to figure it out. I can’t say I don’t enjoy no longer punching a time clock, but if retirement were a paying job, I would have been fired a long time ago for dereliction of my responsibilities.
Oh, I don’t mind taking time for an extra cup of coffee in the mornings, wasting an hour or two watching TV in the middle of the day or socializing for nearly as long at the post office, but I can’t do any of that without feeling a bit guilty about wasting time. Work of some sort is always waiting at home.
Two things (and probably more) I didn’t take into account when I retired. The first is simply the utility of a work schedule — somebody other than myself expecting me to show up at a given time and do something productive. The other thing I didn’t take into account is the reality of aging joints and muscles. Oh, I can still do as much as I could when I was 30 — if it doesn’t require climbing trees, jumping out of hay lofts, picking beans, crawling around on my knees or spotting squirrels high in oak trees. And whatever’s left will take me most of the week to do a day’s worth of work, as well as a couple more to recuperate. OK, I’m stretching the truth a mite. That much of being a retiree, I’ve figured out.
That said, I still find the best way to keep movin’ every day is to keep movin’ every day.
As for the busyness, I should have taken a clue from my late father-in-law, Bud Glazier. After he wrapped up his education career as principal at Salem High School, he found the only way he could actually retire with all his tangential activities was to simply pack up and move to a golf course in Cherokee Village, Ark. But that didn’t work for long. I guess we can change or even leave our careers behind, but we seldom change our nature.
I’m kinda in the same boat — but only because I choose to be. I reckon that’s one of the best things about retirement. We get to pick our poisons.
I wonder some days, though, if I haven’t picked a few too many. My wife and kids tell me I need to learn to say, “No.”
I’m trying, but retirement doesn’t come naturally. It has to be learned, and I’m learning I’m a slow learner. I can’t say I wasn’t warned.
Copyright James E. Hamilton 2019. Jim Hamilton is a freelance writer in Buffalo. Contact him at email@example.com.