May 042013
 
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Retirement changes your perspective-like, for example, how you value your time.  My priorities shifted but it is a slow process after 60 years of routine.  Like Pavlov’s dog, I’d been conditioned but instead of food, I salivated for the weekends.  I’d learned that weekends were when I was in charge.  On weekend days I could sleep late, go where I wanted to go, spend time with the kids or just goof off.  Monday through Friday were defined by work- the activity that supported my lifestyle and provided my limited free time.  On a normal weekday, I would rise at 4:30 and get home about 12 hours later leaving me about four hours before bedtime.  My work wasn’t onerous- some of it I liked doing- but I wouldn’t have followed that schedule if I didn’t need the money.

fat retirementIt’s no wonder that weekends became so important.  I remember counting down the weekdays to Friday and dreading Sunday night, knowing that tomorrow morning at 4:30 my slavery would begin again. Weekends were a treasure.

Well in retirement, life isn’t like that at all.  You can do pretty much anything you want any time you want.  You can sleep all day and carouse all night if that makes you happy.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t.  What was wild and crazy at 25 no longer is appealing- or even possible- at 65.  By retirement, it seems you get drowsy at 8- or else you can’t sleep at all and find yourself listening to talk radio all night trying to stay sane.  You still aren’t in control.

Aging isn’t the only problem however.  Put aside the monkey wrenches that aging throws into the equation.  You can attempt to ignore them and pretend that they aren’t obvious to everyone else but whatever you do it won’t make you young.  The issue I’m talking about here is controlling your time.  It’s a problem whether you are young or old but old people have so much more of it.  While you were working, out of each week with 168 hours, 52 (31%) were under your control with a lot of pressure on that time.   After you retire you have the entire 168 (100%).  Imagine what that would have felt like 20 years ago.  What would you have done with that time?  If you are like me, the list would have been a mile long and you would have been as excited as a teenager getting a driver’s license.  So what happened when you retired?  Where is that list and why isn’t there any excitement?

What is sad about retirement is that life goes on pretty much like always and instead of treasuring those hours and filling them with living, they just dribble away, unloved and unappreciated.  Nobody takes retirement seriously.  It gets no respect.  It requires no commitment.  At a time in your life where the possibilities are limitless, why hide your head in the sand and let life flow around you?  Have you forgotten how to live?

Still life does go on and inevitably, without thinking you make adjustments.  You shift your shopping patterns.  You eat when you feel like it.  You take a nap.  Without actually thinking about it, your schedule adjusts and one of the big surprises is how you feel about weekends. You discover to your amazement that weekends suck.  Instead of looking forward to Friday, you now long for Monday because Monday gives you freedom.  Monday is when the wage slaves are back at their desks and out of the stores, shopping malls, freeways and parks.  Monday through Friday, the world is your oyster and you can search for your pearl without the madding crowds.  What a surprise!

Maybe it’s a small thing after all.  Maybe it can’t compare to the daily challenges and satisfactions of a job or raising a family.  And maybe that small satisfaction stands in the way of making a real lifestyle change- like becoming a beach bum in Fiji or joining the Peace Corps but it is important none the less because you turned your working lifestyle on its ear.  Mondays are when you savor that cup of coffee on the front porch watching your neighbors begin their commute to work, remembering the ‘good old days’ when you were with them.  You have a wonderful day ahead.

So I say up with Retirement Lifestyle and up with Mondays when the Retirement Lifestyle Week begins.

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Ralph

Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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