I retired from my career job in 2004, but soon began working contract jobs from which I am now almost completely retired. On the first day of this second retirement, I woke up wondering – so, what now?
I tried retirement once, and it didn't hold. Maybe the second will be more successful?
From working as a teenager mowing lawns, selling shoes and, for one miserable day, cutting Hops – the job that convinced me I did not want to do manual labor – through a 35 year career in federal law enforcement, which I loved, I decided to again try to join the ranks of retired Baby Boomers. Having tested those much-longed-for waters several years ago I reenter them with some trepidation.
My first try at retirement, from a career requiring many more hours and days than a 40-hour week, lasted only three months. Time enough to complete that “Honey-Do” list of neglected maintenance and home improvement projects, take a Mediterranean cruise (now a trip, no longer a “vacation”) and begin establishing a daily routine. To my dismay, with all that new-found time, the “Honey Do’s” were soon completed, big trips proved to be expensive and, most distressingly, the high point of our new routine was looking forward to 4 O’clock so my wife and I could watch Oprah while sipping our daily dose(s) of wine! So, I returned to work – for another 10 years.
But now I think I am finished. I no longer want to deal with problems of my own making – or those of others. I am through dealing with old computers, new programs, changing passwords or those tasks which I now perceive as menial or a re-inventing the wheel, especially when the end result is more Rube Goldberg than Einstein.
But how to fill my time? In our imagined retirement, my wife and I would move to hot housing markets flipping a house or two while seeing the country. Now, however, another thing I don’t want to do is work that hard. A new Honey-Do list, now including projects in our children’s homes, will provide enough of that work.
I could, I suppose, indulge in a few hobbies. Photography, for one, where I aspire to some level above that of lucky snap-shooter. But my eyes are not what they used to be so I’m not so sure fine art photos are achievable. And, much like my golf game, buying more or better equipment seems to have little positive effect.
Reading history and philosophy may productively fill some time but that pesky eye thing makes it less enjoyable. Listening to music? See photography and reading above, substituting “ears” for “eyes”.
I kept a 1970 Volkswagen Bug we drove around Europe our first year of marriage, and plan to restore it and drive around town reliving both its, and our, glory days. But I’m not really a mechanic, a painter, a body work man or upholsterer and paying others to do those jobs wouldn’t fill much of my time anyway.
Attempts to provide my wife with the very significant benefit of my input concerning household management is also being thwarted. It is becoming clear that to maintain domestic harmony I will be the one commencing a curriculum of retraining to include courses in listening and saying, “Yes, Dear”.
There is volunteering but I lack the warm and fuzzy personality to be a greeter at Wal-Mart; I have no desire to stack books on library shelves, I am too patience-challenged for tutoring and my older grandchildren are becoming harder to entertain or impress; translation: they’ve got Grandpa figured out.
So, what now? Indeed.
I realize I am surrounded by everything necessary to truly make these the Golden Years. We are blessed to have our family close and in good health. Their “Honey Do’s” will become labors of love. Travel may be less exotic but with family along it will be events and memories not just trips. And with those grandkids – who needs – or could even keep – a routine!