Retirement Practice Makes Perfect, I Hope

by Kevin Burton

   I’ve got retirement fever now. May it spark in me a desire for discipline.

    Retirement has been on my mind for a while, but the taste for it was whetted during our recent vacation, spent mostly in Nebraska and South Dakota. We called the trip retirement practice. I would say we got off to a flying start.

   Though the specific things we found to do were fun, the feel of the week was the headline. Whereas “been there done that bought the t-shirt” refers to say, a specific museum we might see, that “go-where-and-do-what-and-eat-what-you-please” feeling is a salve to the psyche.

   I called it retirement fever, but it’s more like a calm. It’s a dismissing of many things from the front burner, either to the back or off altogether.

   I pray that evil people don’t destroy the American democracy before we get a chance to roam in it carefree, but I can’t control that.

   (Everybody in this country should emphasize fun times and travel in the summers of 2023 and 2024, since the USA as we have known it could easily end in November of 2024.)

   What I can control is the discipline part.  That’s the part that calls on me to seek/continue in just the right kinds of employment, tighten spending, take care of resources. These are the things we do every day, in order to have more choices in retirement.

   There are articles about retirement, whole books, talk shows, podcasts.  For me they have faded into the blah, blah, blah. I could scarcely hear them before. But there is nothing like the motivation of that feeling of freedom to get and keep you on the right path.  It’s still easier said than done though.

   Pretty often these days my wife Jeannette and I hear about someone who has just retired or will do so soon.  We mention them, look at each other and sigh.

   Now that sighing is accompanied by a stirring of purpose.

   “Tomorrow’s a work day,” we say to our retired friends. “For some people,” is their smiling reply.

   I have heard first- and second-hand from dozens of retirees that “I’m busier now than when I was working.” This is always said in a good way. I am looking forward to being able to say that.

   We had no hotel reservations on the vacation trip. We decided when we were tired of driving and then sought lodging. We mostly didn’t plan the events we would go to. That only burned us in Sioux Falls, when some of the guided tours that sounded good to us were only offered during the summer. We made it work though by visiting other places.

   We even added a day to the trip on the fly, with the blessing of our cat sitter. That’s freedom. It felt fantastic.

   Both Jeannette and I have been blessed to work at jobs we enjoyed for the most part.  Speaking just for myself, I have tried to help taxpayers, consumers, the blind and some individual businesses along the way. I am proud of the work I have done.

   But these days I get the strong feeling that the world can get by without any particular effort on my part. I’m no longer young or idealistic.

   That doesn’t mean I can’t find some worthy causes to help in retirement. It just means I have “sold the cape” and stopped trying to fix everything.

   Here are some positive thoughts on retirement, from  www.seniorliving.org:

   “The joy of retirement comes in those everyday pursuits that embrace the joy of life; to experience daily the freedom to invest one’s lifelong knowledge for the betterment of others; and, to allocate time to pursuits that only received, in years of working, a fleeting moment,” – Byron Pulsifer.

   “A thriving new beginning can be and should be a time for amazing engagement, growth, connections, contributions, and amazing possibilities,” – Lee M. Brower.

   I like those thoughts. But maybe retirement is the time to re-define “amazing” in a way that suits yourself and your family and never apologize for the definition you come up with.

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