The best thing about retirement is not working. It may sound obvious, but not as much as you think. Not these days when many people either start a new career when they “retire,” or need to take some kind of crappy job to supplement social security which isn’t enough to live on.
There are plenty of other life changes that come with retirement. Not working is only one of them, but it’s my favorite. Pity it means giving up a steady paycheck, but if you can do it … not working is wonderful. It’s particularly wonderful for those of us who have hobbies and never had the time to pursue them while we worked.
After you stop working, you never know what you will be doing in the future, but you know what you won’t be doing.
You won’t be slaving long hours for an unappreciative boss.Getting up at the crack of dawn to scrape ice from the windshield. Driving 60 miles through bumper-to-bumper traffic to be restless and bored for 10 hours. Then getting back in the car and driving another sixty miles in the other direction in the dark when you’re already beat. You may well be perpetually short of money, but you won’t be fighting traffic or grinding your teeth wondering if you’re going to get dumped for a younger, cheaper worker. Discover your job’s been eliminated to improve someone’s bottom line.
You never have to call in sick again, not because you are really sick or if you need a day to take care of a child, business, or just a day off.
Ever learn you’ve lost your job by reading the headlines in the newspaper? I did. Twice. It takes the savor out of that morning brew.
Retirement is the good part of being older. It’s the payoff. You get to own your life. For most of us, it’s the first time we’ve been free.
When you’re a child, everyone owns you. Parents, teachers, strangers. You have to be clever, sneaky and lucky to get to do what you want. Then you go to college and work — often both at the same time — and your boss and professors own you. Deadlines, time clocks and ambition drive you onward to goals you believe will make you happy. Maybe they will — for a while. Then again, maybe not as much as you thought or hoped.
You marry. Have children. And find yourself treading water in an ocean of obligations and responsibility. Children are a lifelong committment. Long after your legal responsibility ends, your emotional responsibility continues. You want to be there for your kids, then your grandkids. That’s the way it should be.
If you don’t have to work while you do it? It’s better. Much better. Did you know half the kids in the U.S. are being raised by grandparents? Parents are busy with work or whatever — unable, unwilling or unfit — to raise their own. There are lots worse things that can happen to a kid than being raised by gramps and gran, but many of us find ourselves reliving the parenting years just when we though we’d finished with all that. Being retired makes parenting much less stressful. You get to stay home. You aren’t imprisoned by commuting and The Schedule. You can finally take a trip to the zoo, help with homework. Play a game, talk about life. There’s time for fun, not just work.
If you aren’t taking care of grandchildren? You have the gift of time and it’s no small thing. Be a blogger. Be a photographer. Sleep late. Stay up till the wee hours watching movies, reading, writing the novel you always wanted to write but never had time. Rediscover music. Join a choir. Retired people are busy people. I’ve been retired for quite a while and I have yet to be bored.
Do I miss work?
I miss the salary. Every once in a while, I miss the camaraderie of a good office environment. But most offices weren’t all that great. Many were thoroughly unpleasant.
I served my time. Whatever I have left, long or short, belongs to me and mine.