When you think about retirement and “the golden years,” you probably think it means free time. After decades of deadlines, you can do what you want, when you want. Time to travel, time to sleep, time to be with friends.
It doesn’t usually work out that way. As a start, though I’m not sure why, the minute you retire, you’re incredibly busy. Nature abhors a vacuum and your days fill up. Life becomes unexpected.
You will wonder how you ever had time to work a full-time job.
IF YOU DON’T DIE YOUNG YOU WILL GET OLD
Your friends get old and some move away. With luck, you’ve got friends and family near enough to visit easily. It’s a gift. But you can’t count on having the old gang in the neighborhood.
Enter email, Skype and social networking. I don’t care who invented the Internet. I’m just glad it exists.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN? OY.
If you are one of the lucky ones who have money and time, you may not have the energy or emotional fortitude to deal with the vicissitudes of modern travel. To put it succinctly, modern travel sucks. It’s not elegant or romantic. It’s hard work for which you pay.
Travel used to be fun when I was young, but it’s been less fun with each passing year. Now, air travel’s a disgrace. Airports and security turn vacations into stress tests, nightmares in which strangers paw you and security personnel dismantle your luggage. There’s no choice if you’re want to go long distances or cross oceans; you have to fly. Good luck with that.
I love flying. If I had a private jet and could skip the airport, I’d travel. Silly me. If I had that kind of money, a lot of things would be different. Like pretty much everything. Never mind. Forget I said anything.
WHERE’S THE MONEY?
Retirement means a fixed income. Your “salary” stays the same forever, while prices don’t. It takes a while to come to grips with this. After you retire, you will never get a raise. Or a Christmas bonus.
You will never have more buying power than you do today. Time erodes the value of pensions. Younger people don’t get it, but they will someday. Their time will come and they won’t like it. No one does.
On the up side, you will find stuff to do that doesn’t cost much money. Museums and other public venues have senior rates the same as kid prices. Movie theaters have cheap afternoon rates as well as special showings of classic movies. Senior discounts are a big perk.
Never forget to take your senior discount! It’s the least they can for you do after all your years of hard work.
OH MY ACHING …
Most people don’t have as many problems as I do, but everyone has some physical issues. Old bodies wear out. Things hurt. Reflexes slow down. You aren’t as strong as you were. You tire more quickly. If you fall, you don’t bounce. You go splat.
It’s normal, but aggravating. If you’re smart, you adapt. Enjoy what your body can do and don’t waste your life fighting to be what you were — while missing the fun of being what you are.
Buck up buckaroos. Getting older isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you. Consider the alternative.
You will have fun. You will adapt, accept limitations and enjoy life differently. Keeping an open mind helps. A sense of humor helps more.
NOT WORKING IS THE POT OF GOLD AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW
The golden-est part of the golden years is not working.
Not working is absolutely, unequivocally a most excellent thing. If only they would just keep sending checks. I don’t miss working, not for a minute, but I miss getting paid.
Our skills are better than ever. Creative artists and people in any field for which mental rather than physical prowess is required, get another chance. We blog, do charity work. Write books, take pictures, sculpt, paint. Design things. Create magnificent gardens. We are treasure troves of experience and knowledge should anyone choose to ask.
I’ve had a lot of fun recently. I’ve written stuff I like, taken pictures with which I’m pleased. Spent time with friends I love. Laughed until I cried and cried until I laughed.
Now I have to go get my heart rebuilt. Drat. It’s always something.
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