I would like to replace next Sunday’s blog with one entitled, “Finding Time to Write,” but I’m not sure I will have time to write it.
I actually sent that text to my wonderful editor, Angela. So … what is wrong with this picture?
I remember when retirement was closing in, and just once, I had this little frisson of uneasiness. What if I am bored when I retire? Picture the yellow emoji head with the grimace. Well, I can now tell you that has never happened, and I have news for all of you on the other side of retirement (I believe they call it “working”): with almost no effort, you can fill your time. The crux of the matter is what you fill your time with.
Once you no longer hear the cacophony of the morning alarm, you are literally a free agent. Friends, relatives, and organizations will offer many opportunities to do things to fill your time, as if all this time was not a fabulous luxury. Quickly, you discover that most of these things bear a decided resemblance to work, except you don’t get paid.
I am not talking about meaningful volunteering and joining, but that, too, can be an abyss. I volunteered for several things and joined several groups right after I retired—with little forethought. As a result, when I felt like I was still working, I quickly flunked out of stuffing plush animals for charity and had to drop a few social groups. The word “quitter” started to haunt me.
Several steps back were required. I needed to decide how I wanted to spend this wonderful commodity called “time.” What did I want to do?
I think of humans being basically body, mind, and spirit. Socializing, which nurtures all of these, is an overlay. With that template, I built a reasonable array of activities.
Body: hiking in the nearby Santa Monica Mountains Park and going to the gym. And I could get manicures and pedicures now.
Mind: pursue the writing I always wanted to do, reading, refining my quilting, and maybe joining a book club.
Spirit: church and Bible study and community service. Add in meaningful socializing with family and friends.
Lots of time for this, I thought.
What I didn’t factor in were the necessary adjunct activities, like grocery shopping, going to Costco for other stuff, and preparing food—not to mention washing the dishes after. The whole eating thing takes up a lot of time from start to finish.
Then there are medical appointments for you and the dog who is aging along with you and who now demands a walk every day, no matter what. And for some reason, community service requires meetings …
The glue that holds all these activities together is social networking, which is supposed to save time but somehow doesn’t. They call it “the web” for a reason.
To counteract all this activity is vacationing, which restores body, mind, and spirit. On vacations, we step away from our usual activities and enjoy life unscheduled. What bliss, and what a necessity! Just like when you were working, but with one huge caveat—you don’t have to worry about using up all your vacation time.
On the way back from a vacation, you are refreshed, thinking about a new way to indulge a hobby or start a new one, spiffing up the house, seeing family and friends, and sleeping in your own bed.
Then you fall into the trap. As you near home, you decide to check your smartphone calendar and see you have an appointment with Vampira, the dental hygienist tomorrow. -sigh-
You really should go to the gym, because you haven’t gone in two weeks, and it shows. A blog needs writing, there is a boatload of stinking laundry in the back seat, the refrigerator is empty, and the mailman will deliver the accumulated mail at 9:00 a.m., and you will feel compelled to go through it …
So why did I have to write that text to Angela? You know what? Since the blog is now written, I think I can go on another vacation …