It Ain’t Heavy

How’s that retirement thing working out for you? At halfway through the third year of retirement, I am, doubtless, beyond the novelty phase. No longer can I claim to be at all tentative about the condition. I am by now committed to the project. My sentiments are generally positive about retirement, although there is a work-in-progress feel to it. Perhaps that will always be the case, but one can strive to optimize retirement. My days are full, despite the absence of a steady job.

A fellow blogger recently wrote that the retirement years are really burdensome “unless there is a plan of things to do.” I find this to be a startling statement in the context of my experience of retirement. I have never felt burdened with the problem of figuring out what to do next. My retirement itinerary has no plan, and yet I do not run out of things to do.

It is possible, I suppose, that I have traveled beyond the novelty phase only to enter a new frontier of delusion. If I live long enough, there is hope that the delusional phase will give way to a phase of disenchantment, which will prepare me for eventual reorientation and stability. In other words, there may still be time for me to experience burdensome retirement years for which having a plan is the only salvation.

I prefer to believe, however, that I have already reached stability, more or less. This is the golden plateau. That is not to say that going along without a plan is ideal for everyone. I think that making plans is more of a personal characteristic—some people are planners and some are not—rather than a prescription suitable for all audiences. What I do with my time—or what I should be doing to feel successful in retirement—is something that matters. Beyond the obvious time spent in bodily maintenance—eating, sleeping, bathing, etc.—I choose to do what I do. One of the benefits of retirement is having that choice.

It may be too early in the stability phase for me to articulate just what drives me to do one thing or the other. To begin to define a purpose for myself, I would say that it is to make my world a little better in some way. I am speaking merely of my world—the world that lies within the scope of my influence. I have no design to improve mankind or even to save the planet. I can make what surrounds me a little better, whether by making or creating something, fixing or maintaining something, or by cleaning something, or clearing away a bit of jumble. I would include making myself a little better, for example by reading something or learning how to do something that I have not read or known before.

Time is not a burden in my retirement years; it is a gift.

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