In a matter of days, I retire from my fulltime job. Twenty-one years is the longest I have ever worked at the same job in my forty year public service career. I could have retired several years ago, but the timing was not ideal. Funny how a complete makeover in your life suddenly becomes the ideal time.
I am walking away with a great deal of fanfare, none of it I asked for, but I was reminded that recognition events are more for the people who want to say goodbye, so that is the story. I am not a spotlight person; I do not run from it, but I walk quickly in the other direction.
Many people I know retired, then jumped into a new career. It was only “retiring” in order to draw retirement benefits as they began a new professional endeavor. Others walked into retirement from all work. My retirement is somewhere in-between, no fulltime work, but looking for a meaningful life pursuit.
I think of it as recalibrating. Reviewing and re-setting some of the things in my life. A perfect time, really.
It’s a bit scary, stepping into the unknown: no job, living on a pension, new to Medicare, no daily structure. I might turn into one of those old guys who hikes his pants up to his chest and talks to the pigeons.
No one wants to be alone at this stage of life. Sharing your life is important, at any stage, but in your twilight years you want to have someone to enjoy the fruits of your life. I am going to share my life with a special person and I’m working on building that relationship. Living solo is okay, I’ve delved deeply into music again and books. I know there is a writing project in the offing, something much different than these blogs. Solitude has its place, but it does not fill the heart or replace the connection between two people. Some lessons you trip over and hurt other people. When you look to the horizon, keep an eye on your steps and those closest to you.
In a continuing pandemic, I’m undecided on traveling. When you announce an upcoming retirement, the first question is usually about your travel plans. I have friends that have invited me across the country to visit. That sounds fun. I’ll travel, I just don’t know when, or whether it will be alone or with a companion.
After a couple months of winter (retiring in December is kind of a drag), I’ll be ready to emerge from my hibernation. I want to do something with my time, a part-time job or volunteering, something meaningful that gets me out of the house. I know that I need structure and purpose. Those are like sunlight.
In the back of my mind is a ticking clock. It’s my life ticking away. How much time is left? Will I be one of those who retires and dies in six months? Or develop Parkinson’s or dementia and starts the downhill slide? Scary thoughts. I am not going to live in fear of the unknown.
A few things to live by.
Don’t waste time. Just find your pace. Accomplish what you desire. Have something to look forward to each day. Tell people that you love them. Better yet, show them. Stop and smell the roses, and appreciate the bees and butterflies.
Enjoy the sunsets, but look forward to the sunrise each day. None are guaranteed.
Forward is the key word. Lean forward, think forward, dream forward, live forward.