Welcome again to the Pappy’s Planet Blog! I have enjoyed conveying my thoughts and sentiments on many subjects near and dear to my heart, and the subject of retirement is certainly one of them. As I approach retirement age, like many American aging “baby boomers”, I reflect on the thoughts regarding retirement after my working years. Most of us have dreams and aspirations of what retirement is and what it should look like, feel like, and be like. In our lives prior to retirement most of us may have been a little surprised at the future as we were when looking at our pasts.
Remember when you were finally a high school senior and you thought “This is my year!” Or when you received your college diploma you thought “The world is my oyster!” Or when you got your first job, or when you got married, or when your first child was born, and on and on? We all have preconceived notions of how these life altering events would change our lives instantly and we would forever live in bliss, harmony, and unrealistically “The Good Life” forever and ever. Most of us aging boomers now realize the rent goes on. Taxes must be paid annually. What we own, owns us. Therefore retirement must be given some advanced thought as well. This last 20-30 year chapter in our lives we all wish will be written with grace and style. We want a lavishness of travel, warm friendships, and memories of “The Good Life” perpetuated and punctuated with profound, perfunctory pleasantries to written in Pappy’s pastimes pamphlet. None of us wants to go out with the relative obscurity of the average man or woman.
Retirement in all its forms must be examined thoroughly by our generation first before fully enjoyed. The very thought of retirement connotes the full departure from work and work related activities. It paints the picture of sleeping in everyday, reading a book in the old easy chair, and bouncing the grand-babies on our Sunday afternoon laps after a roast beef and potatoes dinner.
The reality of retirement for many baby boomers may be reflected as more work than in their working years. Most of us have allowed ourselves “The Good Life” all through our lives allowing for less retirement dreams than past generations. Boomers have already traveled, we have taken cruises, we have purchased Harley’s and flown planes. Some of us have gambled or sought adventure with our nest eggs that may encumber our realization of the retirements we originally desired. If we couple this thought with the new economic picture of potentially less retirement benefits and health insurance, we may find ourselves extending the working years until 75-80. Whoa!
What’s wrong with this picture you say? What happened to the American dream? Where’s the cherry atop my hot fudge sundae? The answer lies embedded within our very lives. We are already so blessed and lucky right now that making the future even brighter may be a difficult task.
I talk to people everyday about retirement and very few can give me a definition of what it looks like to them other than a few ideas immediately following their retirement. I believe most will find themselves thinking of the good times that they had in their working lives while planning for retirement. Life is a journey and those we meet along the way are a big part of that journey. Where do we meet these people along the way? At work of course! Other places include school, church, and organizations we may join.
My point is that retirement may be highly overrated. The human condition requires adventure and a sense of future activities that we look forward to daily. If this routine isolates us or takes us out of the mainstream, I submit that retirement is a myth. Oh sure, slowing down a bit may sound appealing now but what happens when there is less in our future than was in our past? Were our working years the good old days?
Wait a minute, I have an idea! Eureka! What if we look upon retirement as working as much or as little as we desire with enough to manage our monetary affairs in old age with a level of respectability and decency? Is this too low of an expectation? Can we not still add to the human experience at that level of existence?
I, Pappy, look forward to the day when I can spend more time working and fishing at my father’s farm. I want go four-wheeling down the tree lined tank road and stop occasionally to cut down a limb that inhibits my open path to Pappy’s fishing hole. I wish to work mending fences, cutting brush and just having a few weeks of the year to do it. It seems so simple yet I will still need my current life to enjoy those moments as well. The contrast means everything!
We all have a retirement dream or two floating around in our imaginations. Please leave me a few of yours and I will make sure to publish them under the comments section below. Retirement dreams are truly yours and yours alone. The fulfillment of your dreams may have already happened for you and therefore, the retirement dream may be a mere extension of your present. Let me know your thoughts!