Like you, I am sure, I had many pre-conceived notions of what retirement would be like.
In simple terms, I thought it would be like a seven day weekend — as pleasurable as a weekend away from work but now happening every day.
It’s not really like that. In fact, it turns out most of the things I anticipated for my retirement years were a bit off base.
For instance, once I no longer had a daily obligation to an employer I figured I would be up early every day, maybe a half hour later than when I had a job.
Then I would do an unhurried fitness workout and some leisurely stretching.
By 8 a.m., I imagined, I would be done with that workout and shower and could get on with my day of personal enjoyment and accomplishment.
Maybe, I thought, I would set aside some time each day to watch all the movies I had neglected. The New York Times has a list of the 1,000 greatest movies. If I watched just one a week, that list would keep me busy for the next 20 years. The problem is after 10 years I have only watched perhaps a dozen of the recommended films.
Another retirement vision I had was that on some days I would get up extra early for the best light and take some really great pictures. After all, in retirement I could nap mid-day. That has turned out to be about half true. I have only gotten up for sunrise photography a couple of times. I have, however, taken many mid-day naps.
Certainly, I imagined, I would pursue some new hobbies; maybe learn how to sail or something. But I don’t think I have any hobbies now that I did not have 10 years ago.
In summer, I thought, I could dedicate one day a week to long motorcycle rides. Not only have I not done that, I sold my motorcycle. I wasn’t riding it enough to warrant keeping it.
I had visions that I might volunteer for worthwhile causes the way many retired people do. But I really don’t.
I was sure that in retirement it would be a piece of cake to keep up with my house and yard maintenance. My landscape would be immaculate, with everything all pruned, weeded and detailed. But retired me has found that it is not a piece of cake. And some years I have had to hire help for spring clean-up.
I am not sure why all my simple retirement plans have not come to fruition. After all, I now have at least 40 hours per week that I used to spend at work.
There’s grandchildren, of course. A few of my 40 extra hours are now spent at the park or pushing a swing or going to a fun little sporting event or piano recital or play or waiting in the pickup line at school.
But there’s also the life rhythms we establish during our four or five decades in the work force.
I had thought that in retirement weekdays and weekends would become interchangeable.
But they do not. I still go to bed and get up at about the same time as I did during my working years.
And, for some reason, I still do Saturday things on Saturday. Well, I take that back: I now do much of my “weekend” shopping during the week. It only makes sense, right? Why go to the store at the same time as all the poor working stiffs?
But other than that and the grandkids, my personal schedule has not changed a lot in retirement.
So, in many ways my visions of post-employment life were all wrong.
In fact, about the only thing I had right about retirement is that I really like it.
Jim Busek is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected] hotmail.com.