We welcome guest blogger Hollie Grimaldi Flores, whose musings will appear on Tuesdays.
What does it mean to be retired these days? Lately, I have found myself around a good number of retired people. I have to say, it is exhausting! I hear from them, time and time again, that they are busier now then they have ever been. It inspires me to keep my day job as I watch them over-commit to one project and cause after another. I believe that when people contemplate retirement, they envision unlimited time and resources. But when the time comes that they no longer have to go to work every day, they constantly say yes to things. Suddenly, they realize they are the busiest they’ve ever been.
Once retired, there is something to be said for having a schedule and someplace you have to be on a daily basis. It gives structure and purpose. It reminds you there are only so many hours in a day. It serves as a gauge for what is really important. It is almost natural selection. However, too much of a good thing can leave the retiree pining for the days of old, when the eight-hour workday was the primary obligation.
The Many Faces of Retirement
Given the number of retired people I know, there is no shortage of examples of how to do it. There is the guy who is perpetually remodeling his house—much to the delight of his still-working wife. There is the friend who finally wrote her book. There are the retired ladies who have made a routine of art classes, service clubs, and lunches. There is the grandmother who spends one day a week as the primary caregiver of her little darlings. There is the woman who started a new business. All of these examples make me understand that retired certainly doesn’t mean idle.
I bring this up as a message of hope and possibly as a way to curb my jealousy. Even though I’m still working, I spend more than a few minutes a day fantasizing about what my retirement will look like. To be sure, there will be a lot of travel and most certainly a second home on the water somewhere. There will be days and days of doing nothing. There will be endless hours spent reading novels and even more hours writing. There will be long walks on countless trails and mindless floats in pools and lakes.
There will be long, meaningful conversations with dear old friends and precious new ones. There will be classes taken for the pure joy of learning. Of course, there will be service. There may even be naps. Most of all, there will be days filled only with what I deem important to me: selfish, egocentric (which is redundant, by the way), retired me.
Go for the Joy.
The challenge for anyone retiring is more often about finance than it is about what activities will or will not fill their days. And that is where I am most envious of all of these friends and acquaintances who have already figured it out—some at a younger age than I am now. They did something right and are now reaping the rewards. But the real trick is to stay healthy and live a good, long, joy-filled life, no matter how you choose to spend it.