Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Way I See It

Retirement is meant to be the time to relax and reflect, as free as a child, without a care in the world. At least that is the ideal.
So if you were smart and started saving at say the age of two, or created Office software, or married a sheik from an oil rich nation; you might be able to do all that stuff that was in Life Training 101. You know, all that stuff about when you retire you will travel abroad, dine at fine restaurants, go to Broadway shows, constantly buy stuff for your grand kids, and watch the sun set in bathtubs.
How did that entire notion start anyway? It seems like when we old folks got to a certain age, we couldn’t work in the fields, so we sat on the porch and watched the young men go off to raise the crops and tend the soil or go to the factories to manufacture shiny appliances that everyone had to have. Us old folk just sat back in our rocking chairs and were taken care of by the women folk until we became too ill and bedridden then croaked.
It wasn’t that bad to be retired. We could tell stories to the young ones, got to sit at the head of the table and got the respect in accordance of our age.
And the ideal for retirement changed. The brochure showed s in warm climates, wearing outlandish 20 year od out of fashion clothing, playing golf and shuffleboard all day, dancing into the evening hours, laughing over remembrances with umbrella drinks, and overall having a great time.
Of course we all saved up enough to live this life style.
But what happens if there is a recession? What happens when the 401k turns into a 201k? Do we continue to work until the stress of trying to keep up without the respect of years of experience ruin our health? What good is that?
Staycation is what retirement is all about. After the travel and adventures and family gatherings, you come home and spend 24/7 with yourself (and your significant other, if that happens) and the days are spent grocery shopping and checking out the prices of a can of beans and toilet paper. Entertainment becomes the talking heads in the morning and the silliness of babe judges, big haired cooks, or show biz doctors giving out advice interrupted by lawyers trying to save your suffering. After several drinks and way too much junk food, retirement sinks away into boring reality television interspaced with cops and lawyers and explosions and then the eleven o’clock news wrap up.
Don’t worry your family has plans for you. When you fall and can’t get up or forget the water is boiling, they will put you in a wonderful environment with a room with a bed and dresser with perhaps a few combs and cups and napkins and a picture of a long ago time. Your day will be regimented by constant meals provided by an uncaring staff to break the boredom of watching television then scuffling back to your cell.
The way I see it, there are 24 hours in a day. No matter if you are rich or poor that is all the time there is. How we use it is the key.
When work becomes more than a monetary issue and starts to affect your well being, then it is time to retire. Sometimes an organization can assist you in this endeavor, but work should not last until you drop.
Retirement should be more than a pat on the back and a gold watch. You’ve spent years working long hours missing children’s parties and late night suppers for someone else for whatever coins they will allow you to earn.
Remember the time before you had to work? That was the care free time of your youth; when the 24 hours were yours to explore at your own pace. This is what retirement should be.
Put away the responsibilities of the daily grind and have fun. Do something special for yourself, because this journey is not endless and the chapters are closing.
You can start something new. Pick up a wish you have left so long ago, and refresh it. Learn a new language or study the arts or practice music. If you really want to be creative, leave the comfort of your reserve and move to another country. Then you will be overwhelmed with new cultures, food, traditions and keeping life exciting.
It doesn’t have to be that drastic. For with the 24 hours which are all yours now, you can take the time to appreciate your surroundings. Instead of the drudgery of cutting the grass like everyone else, you can plant a flower garden and watch nature interact. It is wonderful entertainment and it is FREE!
You now have time to write the Greatest American Novel that no one else will read. You can paint a masterpiece or score a musical for your own gratification.
If you relish this concept, you will learn to enjoy the little girl in her pink hooded parka and rubber boots wading in a spring puddle with her father. You can embrace the sunshine. A smile by a passing jogger will warm your spirit and the laughter of children will make you smile. A new appreciation of the seasonal changes will amaze you.
And the best part is? All those electronic gadgets which monitor our every moment and demand our constant attention can be turned off.
Of course tomorrow the earth could open up and swallow you or a meteor could crash down on your house or small green vipers could crawl up into your bed while you sleep….. but if you think of these thing you will toss and turn all night.
Sweet dreams.

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