Today is my last day of showing up for salaried work.
My wife is very excited.
Not me. Not because I regret the choice; rather the decision lacks many of the signs that others use to mark a transition.
I work from my office at home so I will continue to make the daily commute, sit at the same desk, feel the same keyboard and reach for the same pens.
Three months before this date I ceased to initiate any new projects or take on any responsibilities that would extend beyond this day. My situation is not like that of many other retirees where they step to one side as they watch the parade pass them by.
One of the interesting things about this time is the similarity of the questions I now face to those I encountered in my twenties.
What are you going to do?
What do you want to do with this time?
Often the assumption is that retirement means breaking the fetters of others’ demands and launching into “freedom.” I hear the echo of that (false) slogan – “You can be whatever you want to be.”
Well… I want to be a star defenceman playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins or a point guard sinking 3 pointers with the Cavaliers. No more likely now than 40 years ago.
There are constraints of talent and physical ability. I may like to work for Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service alongside Bond but something tells me arthritis in my joints may make that difficult.
This transition though does allow the luxury of sitting to the hard question of separating needs from wants, opportunities from obligations, perennial yearning from temporary compulsion.
Of course, money is always a factor. yet lack of money is not as large a limiting factor as I once supposed. Still it does dampen any urge to surprise my wife with our new Alfa Romeo Spyder sports car.
The more interesting question concerns time.
Very few retired people are faced with empty calendars.
According to polls, 37% of retirees said they were surprised at not having enough time in the day for everything they’d like to do.
Two-thirds of retired Canadians spend their time with friends and family. Sixty percent pursue hobbies, 49% travel, and 29% volunteer or do board work.
The most common activities of retirees include writing, biking, hiking, gardening, volunteering, traveling, reading, watching TV and having lunch with friends.
I resonate with the moral imperative of those of the Millennial mindset: Don’t waste my time! I am no longer paid to sit through pointless meetings or listen to people who do not actually want help or to make a point. If freedom comes it will be because of this axiom.
What I will do is to indulge my curiosity even more.
Retirees spend about an hour each day reading , about three times as much time as the typical person. I’m in.
As long as I’m able, I will think and write, at least until my wife refuses my request, “Will you read this?”
One great thing about working for the church is that, generally, the work provides great flexibility, of which I have taken advantage.
I am profoundly grateful for the very many opportunities that have been afforded me. I do not leave feeling I am owed anything or that I owe anything.
Tomorrow will just be the beginning of the next chapter.
For today, a sermon needs writing for Sunday.
How do the rest of you who are retired invest your time?