Once you make the decision to retire you may want to prepare yourself for an unplanned twist of fate that slowly reveals itself only as your second act plays out. After leaving the working world behind you finally have time on your hands to start doing what you really genuinely want to do. Whether your choice be revisiting long neglected hobbies or venturing down paths that until this moment have been untrodden the time is now. You deserve a hearty congratulations for having made it this far. Now start enjoying yourself.
Here’s the thing: have you ever found yourself in a situation where your head tells you to get to it, to take advantage of your new freedom but your body doesn’t seem to be on the same page? The other day around mid-morning I found myself with free time to get on the old exercise bike and crank out a few miles. I grabbed my trusty novel, the one specifically chosen for its mindlessness – basically I don’t have to concentrate a lot but instead quickly lose myself in the plot. Safely insulated from the real world the exercise time flies by. About ten minutes into my virtual journey I noticed a slight pain in my right knee. I tried to tough it out but a few minutes later had to accept it was not getting better. I was absolutely prepared mentally to continue to the end but my old knee refused to participate.
As the candles on the birthday cake continue their relentless onslaught single mindedly committed to blotting out as much surface area as possible I am trying to accept my limitations, those inevitable challenges that come with aging. But where will it stop? A beautiful day calls and I happily garb up intending to attack the latest yard project. I have my elbow length gloves snuggly in place to best the savage thorns that guard my favorite roses. Sunscreen glistens on my face as I protect myself from too much sunshine. I even have my portable foam pad should I have to get down and dirty on hands and knees. What could stand in my way? 20 minutes into it I find myself bent over with hands on knees like I had just run the 100 yard dash. It appears I need to take my pace down a few notches from when I was a younger me. In my mind I picture what has to be done. Why won’t my body just play along?
It used to be exiting planning a family get together. Gathering all the familiar faces to share a feast provides the perfect opportunity to catch up, share old memories and hopefully create some new. Over the years we have accumulated a collection of incredible recipes – the best of the best. We have a nice big table and live in an area where the kids and family actually like to visit. So why does it feel so daunting when we put down a date on the calendar? It’s just not as easy as it used to be. The house has to be cleaned and the sleeping arrangements calculated so everyone has a place to stay. Preparations for the meal can feel monumental between shopping for the long list of ingredients, sous chef preparation on the front end, timing of the miscellaneous dishes, and serving everything hot and at its peak. The host and hostess hardly have a moment to sit down and participate in the feast as they endeavor to keep everything on track. It sure ain’t as easy as it used to be.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I am becoming lazy with the added years. I plan to keep at my exercises, really love my gardening and gladly put up with what it takes to pull off a successful family reunion. I have no plans to slow down more than I absolutely must. It’s just that it is so easy thinking about and visualizing what I want to do. In my mind the sky is the limit. Maybe it’s not too early to begin enlisting the sharp minds and strong backs of the younger generation. They have proved themselves along the way and are usually eager to help where they can. Perhaps my knees are wiser than I when it comes to safe exercise – I need to listen to their warnings. And there is really nothing wrong with setting a slower pace, one that is more fitting for the current body within which I reside. My retirement education continues. I am finding some lessons easier than others. But as long as I keep at it, as long as I continue to learn along the way I remain optimistic about the future, sore knees or not.