Saturday, March 28, 2015

What Retirement Looks Like

     While I was working out at the local recreation center this past week I noticed a rather muscular older gentleman working out on the weight machine next to mine.  His upper body looked as if he might have lifted cars off the assembly line prior to his retirement.

      But what I noticed was the shirt he was wearing.  It was a plain black shirt with the lettering, "This is what the seventies look like."  I remember the seventies--great music, break-out technology heralding the age of personal computers and Star Wars.  So what does that have to do with the t-shirt he was wearing?

      Oh!  I get it.  His shirt and healthy biceps are both saying, this is what you look like when you're seventy.  Well, maybe him.  Not sure it will be me.  In fact, in the four months that I've been fully retired, I doubt that I could put the words on a t-shirt to characterize my life at present.

     Maybe because of that, 'anxiety' is what seems ever-present currently.  What should I do?  What have I done?  Should I be doing something else?  When I was working, I postponed many things--reading (or writing) great novels for example--thinking I would have plenty of time for that once I retired.  But now that I'm retired, I feel much less urgency about doing either.

     What I'm more worried about is accomplishing little chores around the house, a to-do list that has collected over the years and has still languished despite all the free time I'm now alleged to have.  But that was precisely what I wanted to avoid in all the years I was looking forward to retirement . . . becoming one of those gentlemen who obsesses about the state of their yard, their garden, and their home.

    So what defines an appropriate retirement mindset then?  I like the phrase my four-year-old grandson Grant used today to describe the mindset with which you approach a video game, Angry Birds for example:  "You have to watch out for things."

    Very true.  You have to watch your health and lifestyle more closely.  Then there are constant scams to avoid, taxes to dodge and investments to watch.  Just this week I received a letter from the folks who manage my 401k, telling me they're cutting my retirement income by over three per cent for next year.  What?? I haven't even collected retirement for a year yet and they're cutting it already!!??

    Oh, oh.  Here comes that anxiety again.

    There is something I have been somewhat proud about doing since I've turned in my nine-to-five card . . . I have been working out regularly at the recreation center with many others of my generations there.  I guess maybe that guy with the seventies t-shirt could be right.  Not his body but his message.  In about ten years I'll still be hanging out with other seventy-somethings at the local recreation center.