Man, how I used to love Fridays when I was working. Light work days, with many of the more demanding people off. A day to catch up and actually get something done. Less meetings. Less fighting. More relaxed atmosphere. The excitement of a couple of days off in front of me. The relief. The anticipation of late nights watching movies, not worried about getting up the next day. Lazy Saturdays and Sundays. Fishing on the beach. Beers on the balcony, with the stereo going. Parties with family and friends.
I’ve been retired for around 7 months now. More than half a year, but sometimes it seems like I just walked out of work a couple of weeks ago.
My first post on this blog was about stepping into retirement. I felt like I was in the starting gate, and I didn’t have a good idea of what would follow or how I would like it. I was concerned with big household jobs I had coming up, and how to live my life without the structure of work. I yearned to live more in the now. Take time to smell the flowers, enjoy the quiet times, and just relax.
Am I still drifting around, wondering what to do?
Most of the jobs I was so worried about early in my retirement are out of the way now. There is always more to do, but life goes on and I’ll get to it. No, I’m not really living in the now much more than I did before. I still make lists in my head of things that are stacking up on my to-do list, and find myself feeling pressure. I’m OK with that. It’s my personality, and I really wouldn’t be happy if I changed. I watch my dog living in the now. I don’t think I could take the rapid ups and downs that I watch her go through. To me, thinking about the broad future – planned and unplanned – is more of a comfort than a worry most of the time. I can visualize a future that I want, and then do things to make it so. This won’t always work out, but at least I have a fighting chance. My dog can’t do that. She is always at the mercy of everything around her, being lifted and dropped by the rolling waves of a life she can’t control.
I’m going to be somebody who will always need his work, and I need some structure to stay on track. I’ve found that structure, and it’s working fairly well so far. It’s keeping me from sitting on the couch watching TV all day, which I think would be the death of me.
What am I doing?
I have a routine to start my day, and that keeps me from sitting around trying to decide what I want to do for hours on end. I have interests to fit into that starting routine, and once I’m running, it’s easy to transition to another interest from there after a while. I still sit around some and watch TV, but more often than not, it’s off until late afternoon or early evening.
There are two main interests that are part of my day to day life, and the structure of my day is built around them. I’m continuing on with the main interest that I kept up with while I was working, and I’ve gone back to an old interest that life as a working stiff and dad prevented me from enjoying to the fullest.
The ongoing interest is music. I’ve been playing ‘cello for most of my life, mainly in symphony orchestras, and in the orchestra pits for stage musicals. My pursuit of this interest hasn’t really changed very much since I retired. I practice more now, but that’s about it. I’ve always thought that I would pursue more playing opportunities when I retired, but I haven’t done that so far. Adding another orchestra is a possibility, and there is a local one that would like me to play, but two things are holding me back….freedom to travel at the drop of a hat, and aging hands that limit the number of hours I can practice in a given week. I plan to continue to play as long as my hands and mind hold up, but don’t plan to ramp that up too much.
The old interest that I’ve gone back to is writing. Fiction writing. In my earlier days, I did quite a bit of that. Short stories, partially completed novels, scraps of good and bad stuff. The time that I was most prolific was during the mid 1980s, after I had finished my BS in Business. I was working full time while attending college, and when I was done, I had to have something to help me slow the flywheel that was driving me. I would go out to the little room inside the garage that I did homework in, and hammer away on my Commodore 64.
I slowed down and stopped the writing after a year or so. There were some good reasons for this. The most important one was my family…..my first two sons were growing up rapidly, and I needed to spend more and more time with them. My wife, who was losing patience with my alone time, needed more from me as well. And finally, I ended up with two more kids on the way (twins)…..so my focus had to change quickly. This was in no way a bad thing. Many of the happiest memories of my life were from this time. Watching the boys grow and explore life. Indian Guides, Little League, AYSO Soccer, Roller Hockey, family camp outs, boating, trips to Bullhead City, and more. I miss all of that, and wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.
The structure I’ve set up for myself is pretty simple. I get up in the morning, feed the dog and cats, and then come down to the room I’m sitting in now. I start writing. Sometimes it takes me a little while to get going, but generally I’m into it after 15-20 minutes of checking various sites on the internet and looking at e-mail. I usually write from about 9:00 am to about noon, unless I’m really rolling, in which case I can go until 1:00 or 2:00. Laura is generally writing at the same time as well, so it’s pretty quiet in the house at this time. I’m really enjoying this right now…..in fact it’s usually the highlight of my day.
After the writing session is done, I’ll have some lunch, take the dog for a walk, and then practice ‘cello for a little while. After that, the day is pretty open….Laura and I figure out what we want to do. Several days a week we go to the gym. Other days we run errands. Sometimes we just kick back and talk, and every once in a while we watch TV.
It doesn’t make too much difference to me if we are at home or in the RV….this structure basically works. I enjoy writing time in the RV, and I think Laura does too.
The fiction project I’m working on right now is a novel. It’s about serial killers and those that hunt them, and yes, there are RV’s involved (of course). Is it any good? I don’t know. It might be crap. Either way, I’m enjoying the experience of writing it, so I’ll keep going, and we’ll see what happens.
I take a break from the fiction every so often to write articles like this for The Two Who Wander. I enjoy that too, but I don’t lose myself in the writing like I do with fiction. When I’m writing the fiction, I’m in the story. Some days it’s really hard to drag myself out of that world.
So I’m no longer in the starting gate. I’m off and running. I’ve found what I want to do, for now, and I’m enjoying it. Before I got going, I used to think about work. I still think about friends from work, but the old project and it’s environs are never on my mind. That tells me that I’ve made the transition. I’m retired.
Fridays? Yes, surprisingly, they are still just about my favorite day. There is still the anticipation and excitement. Maybe I’ll stay up later tonight, and watch some movies. Oh yeah, and there’s a party to go to this weekend!