Sixty-five (or whatever year is currently correct), arrives and with it for some, the horror of retirement! You’ve been working since you were about 16; had to be there at a set time every morning for 50-something years; seen the same faces each day and done more or less the same thing every day, whether it be tightening nuts, sorting veg, adding up complicated figures or looking after the sick. Then suddenly, without any sort of gap in between to let you adjust, you are free to do whatever you like, whenever you like and why-ever you like. It can come as quite a shock to some people!
Of course, an enormous part of what you decide to do with yourself will depend on various conditions outside your control, such as the state of your health, the state of your finances and possibly the state of your marriage. Where you live can also be a governing factor – you might, on the spur of the moment decide that you’d like to do a bit a fishing, something you’d never tried but often yearned for while at work, but now the time has come, you suddenly realise the nearest water is about three hours’ drive away. Here’s you with a bit of a gammy leg that won’t let you be comfortable in your car for more than 20 minutes at a time. Different plan needed!
I’m sure everyone who has gone through this trauma knows how difficult those first few days or weeks can be, with so many new decisions needing to be taken, but I’m also sure most of them would say that it almost always sorts itself out, once you learn to sit back, relax and let ideas grow in your brain. I was very fortunate in that I had been a professional artist and writer all my working life, occupations I loved and was still keen on when I packed up work, and a lot of people don’t have that advantage. I’m sure most people, especially those who are within say 10 years of future retirement, will have formed some ideas, perhaps of hobbies already indulged in, like bowls or walking, and it might be a good idea to start planning, based on them, right now.
Don’t forget, there’s a whole world to be explored, especially for someone who is only 65 years old, (considered quite young in today’s environment, when a bloke, or a woman, can seriously expect to still be with us at 80 or more). What I did, and I don’t say this would necessarily suit everyone, but I joined as many organisations as I could and that I felt I’d like to be a part of, like Lions, Country Fire Authority (CFA), the board of the local hospital, the board of the town’s kindergarten and the board of the Country Club (I’ve no doubt everyone was pretty ‘bored’ with me, joining that lot, but it all served to help me keep both my mind and my body active and functioning). I also got talked into standing as councillor in the local shire elections and I finished up serving on that for three years too; but the point I’m trying to make is that there is always something that needs doing by someone in your local community, especially if you live in a small town, so why shouldn’t it be you?
This all happened for me some years ago – I’m 83 now and beginning to step back from most of the activities I took part in, but I still enjoy writing each week and I occasionally dig my paints and pallets out and knock out the odd landscape, some of which I even manage to sell if I’m lucky – a bonus! It all keeps me going between breakfast and my afternoon nap – the nap is another important activity that should be participated in, it provides the strength to do all the other stuff!