My Beloved eased himself into retirement. When we relocated to a new town, I needed to work out a notice period to my employer, which meant a weekly commute elsewhere for a few months. So it made sense for said man to take care of things on the home-and-settling-in front. “Just for now” we said, “in the interim”. But the interim worked well for us and eventually the Occupation box on the Customs and Immigration form (completed on departure from or arrival in NZ) morphed from Manager to Retired, despite the fact that my Beloved was, at the time, neither 65 nor independently wealthy.
He, like many men, saw retirement (for him) as the end of paid employment, early morning starts and wearing a tie. Now the lawn and garden get more attention. Golf has moved from a Saturday morning cleanse-the-work-week-away activity to a bone fide, justifiable way of whiling away three mornings a week. Fresh air, exercise and good company: “Could it get any better?” asks he. “I suspect it could” replies me. And indeed his version of retirement would certainly have to, for me to have a similar sense of satisfaction.
Are you as perplexed by the concept of retirement as I am? While there are moments, sometimes days, when the thought of endless hours to do as I please is alluring, the reality is I feel some unease about the spectre of all those hours and days going on, seemingly without specific purpose. I imagine that what my Beloved finds in the comfort of routine and ritual would, for me, become the boredom of repetitiveness – all that same old, same old stretching before me. Not initially, of course, but eventually. Perhaps. But the thought of 30 odd years of that sort of retirement is enough to put my nose back to the grindstone, pronto!
It strikes me as curious that we start life learning to play, then subvert those skills into our careers for 40 plus years, only to be rewarded with more playtime in retirement. But by then lots of us have to learn what play is, and how to enjoy it, all over again. Unless, of course, you managed to maintain your play along the way. (More power to you, if that’s the case!). My challenge, I suspect, is that my work became my play a long time ago, so to simply stop it (a la my Beloved) will leave a big hole and remove part of what makes this second half of my life so delicious. The opportunity before me therefore, is to ease into a more relaxed, shorter work week, while figuring out what more play could actually entail.
It seems to be an issue for many of we midlife women, accustomed as we are to using our noggins for a greater good, earning enough money to support our lifestyle, being independent, having our own identity and filling our time with meaningful pursuits. That’s why I too am working on crafting my deliberately delicious second half.
One thing I know for sure though, is that all things being equal, I won’t be using age 65 as my official retirement marker. My Beloved, by the way, has now reached that grand age and delights in receiving his fortnightly government supplied ‘reward for services rendered’, as he likes to call it.
Knowing that I am pondering the concept, yet again, he decides to remind me that “retired life is goooooood”. Then he smiles, waves and hops happily onto his ride-on mower, heading for the lawn – mown only two days earlier – to remove the 5 millimetres that dared to grow, while he was on the golf course ☺.
Oh, that we will all find our own equally joy-filled version of retirement!
So spill: What do you imagine retirement will look like for you?