Other than a few short gigs that actually earned a check, I hung up my gun, pen and necktie over 15 years ago. It has been quite an experience since, with a very flexible bucket list and the time to check items off this list. Many of my contemporaries that were starting when I was checking out are reaching this magic phase of life. You see, retirement removes your job as an excuse to not do things for yourself and family that you should have been doing when you were employed. What did my vocation as a trained observer teach me about retirement? Several things, actually. Here we go…..
First, keep your feet on the ground. Altitude, even a few feet, becomes a deadly reality for folks as they age. Avoid ladders like the plague, admire rooflines from the street and treat stairs like hooded cobras. Next, regard that first cup of coffee with the reverence reserved for a rich uncle who is ailing and refers to you as his favorite nephew. Savor it’s warmth and aroma as you gently brew a cup or pot to start and perhaps end the day. Even the medicos are touting the benefits of this magic elixir these days. Grasp the concept of adaptability with gusto. In my case arthritis has affected virtually every activity that I enjoy. Our bodies, like a vintage automobile, require maintenance and nurturing. If you are in the “elder” classification, and nothing has happened, wait a bit. Something will happen, I can guarantee it.
Cultivate a passion. I have friends who wood carve, fly airplanes, fish, travel, research history or keep their yards to botanical garden standards. Perhaps wood working or turning wrenches is your passion. Maybe you are a voracious reader, play word games on computers or love being behind a camera. Some folks love the casino, a pastime that requires discipline lest it relieve you of all that you own, but is nonetheless fun for them. When asked what you like to do, have an answer. If you are involved in a multitude of activities, you are blessed. A special word of advice is in order here. Today folks seek a profit from about anything you can do legally. Be sure and work nature into your regimen, as life in the outdoors is still a bargain and the returns are endless. There is no Rx that can deliver the tranquility that a sturdy pair of shoes and a hiking trail can deliver. The sound of a paddle cutting a J stroke is priceless.
Be a kid again. When is the last time you sauntered out to the family chariot and deep cleaned the beast before hand waxing with the stuff that requires effort and is not sprayed on. Pretend, just for a moment, you are getting the car ready for prom night seeking perfection as you use little brushes and swabs to get dust out of crevices and voids. Get dirty planting a tree or shrubs. If you don’t need a nail brush regularly, you are missing out on the things that bring smiles to kids faces.
Donate weekends to those still pulling in the traces of employment. You have five days a week to do what you want to. Saturday and Sunday as personal days are where you were, not where you are.
Unless you are involved personally, leave the politics to those hapless souls who are trapped in the stupidity of our political system. What, you say? This from a fellow who constantly harangues the politicians who feed at the public trough? I have failed miserably in following this advice and paid a price for it. You see, politics and perhaps religion, both result in your making enemies you really don’t have to. This trait is particularly vexing in retired police officers whose careers involved constantly assessing what is right and wrong in human behavior. My heartfelt advice is to avoid this arena and save your passion for the voting booth, the only place you can make a difference unless your name is on a ballot. Being a politicoholic isn’t advisable, perhaps an intervention is in my future. Politics constitute the seed bed of hatred in folks who want to affect change beyond their vote…….
Don’t back down after retiring, buck up! These are golden years, but do not let the old man or old woman slip into your life. We live in the best place in the world to branch out, find a passion, and get moving. As Larry the Cable Guy would say, git’er done.
Have a great week!