Many years ago , I used to be part of a group of friends that met once a month to play bridge . There were six of us couples and we took turns meeting in each others houses . All of us were in mid-career , juggling work and children and yet we met regularly , once a month, for almost 15 years. Life was hectic in those years and we used to dream of a time when the children would be grown and on their own , when we would be retired and have more time for bridge. Then it happened; retirement came and , with it , some unexpected developments.
One of the couples was older than the rest and , their child having moved out , they decided it was time to retire. Almost immediately, they stopped coming to the monthly bridge sessions. When pressed for a reason, they said that they found themselves busier than ever now that they had retired .
” But what do you do that keeps you so busy ? ”
” Oh, a little of this, a little of that,” was the vague reply.
” What exactly ? ” we persisted.
” We can’t quite tell you. You’ll know when you retire “, was the answer.
Well, I have been retired for a few years now and I know what they meant. I too am very busy these days , though I’d find it difficult to tell you what it is that I do that keeps me so busy. I’ll also admit that I don’t seem to ‘ accomplish ‘ very much. All I know is that the days and weeks gallop by faster than ever . For instance,I’d barely gotten used to the idea that it was 2010, when I realized it was April. Another blink of the eye and summer was over , the school buses were out in force.
I’ve spoken to some of my retired friends and they tell me that their experience is very similar.I’ve tried to analyze why this should be so and here are my thoughts on the subject.
1. Now that there are no deadlines , everything is done at a more leisurely pace. It takes longer to do the same tasks and I must admit they are a bit more tiring.I’ve re-discovered the pleasures of an afternoon nap.
2. Since there is nothing that I have to do , I only do what I want . Other than the inevitable housework, I only do the things that bring me pleasure.Consequently , I’m not trying to ” accomplish ” anything .
3. Before I retired , some friends had warned me that I’d quickly become bored. Some of them retired and then found they missed the routine of work . I realize now that they were married to their jobs ; they had few interests outside of work . However, if one has interests retirement is a snap. In my own case , I’d always been fond of reading, and retirement has given me more time for it. I’ve also developed some new interests. I try to exercise regularly , I do a little volunteering, I play bridge once a week at the Y ( and plan to play elsewhere too) , I visit the library often, I’m addicted to Netflix ( particularly foreign TV series/ movies , espescially British , Korean and Japanese) and I write my blog.My wife and I also travel when we can. One of the best things about retirement is that we have more time for each other . Some of our interests coincide ( bridge , spiritualism ,movies) others don’t ( she is passionately interested in music and takes music lessons ; I have a tin ear) . Thus we have some things we do together , others separately. Almost without knowing we have fallen into a comfortable routine which is deeply satisfying.
I don’t know what other people do in their retirement but I know that my wife and I are not all that unique. Yesterday afternoon , I went to Mike’s house to play some rubber bridge . There were four of us , Mike and his wife Dina , another friend Jacques and myself. As we began playing Mike said it had been very difficult and frustrating trying to get a foursome together . Everybody he called was retired but they were all busy with one thing or another .
I smiled to myself as I thought ” Where have I heard that before ?”