It was not long ago when thoughts of Monday morning typically caused a quickening of the pulse, churning of stomach acids and noticeable tightening in the temples. After the oh so brief respite the weekend provided it was time to head back to the grind. Even if you enjoyed what you did for a living getting back into the swing of things was not always the highlight of your week. Wading through the sea of commuter traffic, fighting for a parking spot, leaping into the first-day-of-the-week meetings where managers shared newly inspired visions of the future magically concocted in the past 48 hours – and this was just the beginning of the week.
When you have to work for a living you can’t always pursue what you love. Priorities are pretty straight forward as you battle to raise a family, endeavor to climb the corporate ladder, and try to set aside a little something for the future. Maybe, if you are lucky or a bit stubborn you can find some time away from the rat race to do what you love, what really lights your fire. Without those moments of escape it can be a long tedious journey.
Welcome sweet retirement! Finally you have access to that so elusive commodity – free time. At long last you decide what to do with your day. It is up to you – so empowering and yet foreign a reality that not all are quite sure how to proceed. One way is to set your sights on doing what you love.
The other day I was scouring the bookshelf in search of a missing DVD when I discovered a stack of old piano sheet music. As a kid forced to go to piano lessons twice a week and put in my daily hour of practice I was not entirely appreciative of the skills I was developing. However, later in life and especially now I truly enjoy sitting down in front of the keyboard and playing a tune. One thing missing was new songs to play. Lo and behold here was a mish mash of tunes from a variety of genre. I happily carried the stack to the back room and soon was practicing the Theme from MASH, Bridge over Troubled Waters, and a collection of Dixieland jazz pieces. The old fingers are not what they used to be when I was in practice but now I have all the time I could want to get better. And now I love doing it.
My recently retired wife has rediscovered the joy of knitting. At another time in her life she was an avid knitter proudly displaying past accomplishments from intricate blankets to sporty caps. Then came the kids and the job and unfortunately there was no longer time to spare on this pastime she loved. Today I routinely find her online searching for new and challenging patterns for future works. Watching TV at night my peripheral vision detects a blur of motion as her hands quickly fly through the twists and turns that result in those unique creations that make the best gifts and home decorations. Recently a friend introduced her to the joy of quilting. I am not talking about just stitching together miscellaneous scraps of material but meticulously creating genuine works of art worthy of hanging on the wall. We will see how it goes but I would not be surprised if she found herself another passion to pursue in retirement.
I realize now how important it is to my own retirement happiness to know what I love and spend my time enjoying it. I cannot imagine waking up to start the day with nothing exciting to look forward to. Even the old job though painful at times at least kept me busy. I don’t do well for long in a stationary position be that mental or physical. I need to keep learning and trying new things. For me there is nothing better than looking toward the clock to see the day has flown by as I reflect with a smile on what I have been doing since rising. And not just doing but enjoying doing. It need not necessarily include any accomplishment of consequence. The real accomplishment is making the most of today doing what I enjoy and feeling good about me.
There will always be times that require me to do things I do not particularly like. However I notice this happens much less frequently than when I was on the job! Waking to a new day in control of my destiny, able to pursue those passions that excite me, that is the retirement I’m talking about. Who has time to be bored? There is so much to do. And I get to pick and choose what I want. I love being retired.