Posted: Thursday, January 05, 2012 6:04:10 PM
My 2012 Vision: A Nod to Yogi Berra
Retirement. It’s okay to sit for an hour and work on the morning paper’s crossword. It’s okay to wonder before going to bed just what one will do tomorrow. It’s okay to find busy work around the house: clean drawers, sort through photos, read and read and read. It’s okay to discover that walking and feeding the neighbor’s dog for two weeks while they’re on vacation is one of the highlights of your day. It’s okay, isn’t it? Because if it isn’t, then I’m in trouble. And the last thing I want is trouble in my first year of retirement. Clearly, the question belies my true feelings and troubled is how I feel. So, with a nod to Yogi Berra, my concern is how to take the mundane out of retirement and find a contented excitement.
One of the main challenges in retirement lies in the guilt for not working and not having a well defined purpose in life. In our society work defines who one is. So what defines one who is retired? Oh, I know that many people have found a meaningful purpose in life while retired, but how? Some people just know. Some people don’t want to know. Some, like me, want to know but don’t know how to go about finding it. Or is it that some people, like me, are afraid to try? How does one find that structure without succumbing to expected outcomes: to feeling like one has given in to life?
You know the expected outcomes. Retired teachers are expected to substitute teach. Retired doctors and lawyers are expected to play golf and buy a second home where it’s warm. And of course, there are the grand children to watch, the committees to volunteer on, the courses to take, the yard to care for, and you get the picture. So what is wrong with these outcomes? Nothing. Nothing is wrong with them. In fact they are all grand. Just as walking the neighbor’s dog is grand. And maybe that is the problem. Life is good and now there is no excuse for not doing all the things I dreamed of in youth. And so the guilt creeps in. The inner urges poke at me to do more.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love retirement. What luxuries: easy, quiet mornings, the thrill of finding a classical radio station for our days’ background, or the satisfaction of creating a quiet nook for writing. But it is not enough. I need to push the fear aside, pull forth those dreams of youth and bring them forward.
In this year of 2012, I will conjure up those dreams and start a new adventure. It is my hope that by striving to take action, possibly bold but always thoughtful acts, I will find that state of contented excitement. It may not have the verve of youthful adventure, but it will have the wisdom and ease that the last stage of life allows. Ah, retirement.