A friend of mine is retiring. He’s sixty. He’s cutting back on his work commitments but doesn’t quite know how to do that and get into full-on retirement. He gets up at the same time, does the same things and rushes to the family business still – out of habit mostly. But now he stands around micromanaging the new manager until the stress cracks surface in both of them. Then he realizes that he is being silly so he goes out and exercises and shops and does chores and dreams up ‘retirement’ ideas. He maybe has a long lunch at a service club to talk about community commitments.
And then he goes back to the shop to ‘just check in’. Stays until new stress cracks surface.
He’s driving everybody nuts.
“Look! I KNOW I am retired but, damn it, I still have a business and a huge family and four community gigs a week not to mention all the rest of the stuff……!”
“Your children are all grown. Leave them be. The new manager is good. Leave him to it. Four community gigs a week is too much. And most of the ‘rest of the stuff’ was quasi business related anyway. Get a grip, dawg! Relax. You are still biting off more than you can chew.”
“I know. I know. So that is why I signed up for the “Round the World Race!”
“Yeah, I have to train for two months and then I sail from Capetown to Sidney. Oooh, man, pretty cool!”
“That leg is the Roaring Forties. That’s the Southern Ocean! Oh my God, the Southern Ocean!”
“Yeah. Scary, huh?”
“Maybe you and I need to have a talk about what retirement actually means; slowing down, bbqs, fishing, gardens, that sort of thing.”
“Fer sure, man! Soon as I get back. Gardens. Yeah, that’ll be the ticket. I am sure I will love gardening.”
In fact, all my friends who went from working to retirement went through an individualistic transition phase. No two were alike. Some transitioned smoothly, others just took on new jobs and wrestled with the clock in a different way. Some took up hobbies and some took up lethargy in the form of golf and TV. By far, the most common was starting off by doing some cliche’ traveling.
But that doesn’t work for everyone.
Some got into ‘the cottage’ lifestyle and that, for the most part, has pretty universal appeal but, if there is an exception, it is that one of them has a lot of social ties back in the city. Country guy and city girl encounter scheduling conflicts sometimes.
Health and family issues can keep people rooted in retirement at the same place as they were rooted in employment. But, in this modern age, those two strong forces don’t seem as strong as they were in yesteryear. Not for my guy at 60 anyway.
Sal and I transitioned rather well, actually. But that was mostly because we leapt before we looked. We kept the transition time short. Hours, maybe. And then we were engulfed and overwhelmed with the task we had undertaken and, surprisingly, the added task of surviving the learning curve. You have to learn to swim quickly when you fall in the deep end.
But now that we have survived the initial shock, we have embraced retirement to the extent that we could not – not even for a week – get back on the merry-go-round again. Too hard. Just can’t do it anymore. We’re slow. Think slug-slow.
It takes awhile to get to slug-dom. For me? Ten years of transitioning.
And that is the point of today’s blog. Slow is beautiful. Slow works for me, now. I like slow. I am still impatient by nature but not with slowness per se. If a sloth walks slowly in the forest, the sloth is enjoying himself and still getting somewhere. I like that. I am NOT impatient with that. If a sloth watches TV and falls asleep and wonders why the hell dinner is late, well then I feel a little impatient. As long as slow is an attitudinal choice and not an ugly personality trait, I accept it fully. I think I have transitioned. Mostly. Kinda….