After retiring I assumed life would smooth out and I’d have a handle on it without an unreasonable amount of effort, but, in fact, just the opposite occurred.
Life has gotten more complicated, and that’s the reason I began paying closer attention to my intuition, to that ‘gut’ feeling we have when things seem to be out of whack. Oftentimes, we brush it off with the assumption that whatever happens was supposed to and it would work out for the best, and for the most part that’s probably a functional strategy. But one of these days something may go haywire and we need to have a strategy for getting past it. Here are a few optional simplicity initiatives I’ve observed and found useful since retiring a decade and a half ago that may prove helpful for you some day, maybe even today.
If you don’t like the way someone’s driving, and you won’t have to travel far to experience this feeling, don’t get all cranked out of shape about it, simply stop following them. Change lanes, slow down a bit, taking a few deep breaths always helps, and test the patience and driving skills of the driver behind you who’s now pissed at the way you’re driving.
Another routine driving stressor is being cut off in traffic by a dufus cell phone user or someone screwing around with the radio or CD player. I suggest smiling at them, pointing at their license plate, and slowly moving your mouth while pronouncing the words “I wrote it down.” They’ll worry about it for days.
If I happen to be going you’re way, there’s always the chance that one of us could be lost. Fortunately, I’ve never been lost, but I have become geographically disoriented on occasion, so attempting to flag me down for directions will prove futile because, 1) I won’t stop, and 2) if I’m off the retirement compound, I most likely want to get back there since the real world scares the hell out of me much of the time.
If you call me after 8 p.m., I probably don’t want to talk with you or anyone else. In most cases, incoming calls after this time of night are usually not good; they come from relatives telling us something bad has happened, from a doctor giving us similar news or a telemarketer who ignored the “do not call” notation by your name. Besides, odds are I’ve already nodded off in my recliner, won’t sound too coherent, and may abruptly hang up on you.
While we’re on the topic of phone calls, I don’t want to hear from you real early in the morning either; I’ll be having my coffee and reading the paper. Nothing personal, just don’t call me early in the morning or late at night and expect to get much of a response or have a long-winded chat to catch up on whatever it is you think I’ve been missing about your life that’s so important it couldn’t wait until a decent hour for sharing.
Nutrition has become important to me these days, and eating a well-balanced diet is essential for health maintenance, according to my doctor, so I consider red wine, meat, a good dessert, some kind of exotic cheese you can’t pronounce, and whatever else needs to be cleaned out of the refrigerator as ideal options. Leftovers are the staple of life, especially with the price of groceries now outpacing the cost of gasoline. And if you think that stuff is overpriced, printer ink tops the list of all-time most expensive semi-essential products selling at approximately $10,000 per gallon if you calculate the amount of ink actually contained in one of those little print cartridges.
When we’re at the mall or just on a casual outing, walking behind me makes me nervous, so don’t do it. Besides, I may not be going where you assume and I often change my mind about my destination several times per minute. You can walk ahead of me, but if you turn around and look, I may or may not be behind you. Finally, when walking beside me, keep in mind that I often have a pace that varies for no apparent reason. It’s called my pace. Maybe we should just meet somewhere at a predetermined time and location.
Axioms, all of them, such as “keep your nose to the grindstone and your shoulder to the wheel” no longer hold any allure for me since the people who created them are long gone and history has a way of being both distorted and ignored until after it might have proven helpful.
The most reliable adage is considering your retirement as being similar to an unnerving roller coaster ride: The first part of the ride is exhilarating and you want it to last forever; as you near the end of the ride you’re at the point of jumping off or throwing up. The conclusion: Some things aren’t as good as they seem from a distance and trying them without having an exit strategy can prove to be a huge inconvenience.
Following your dream can be a good idea, unless it’s the one you’ve been paying a therapist to help you forget. Simply stated, retirement may or may not be a good thing for you, it’s entirely what you make of it.