February 27, 2024

Cold and snowy one day…


There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.

-Bill Waterson


It’s been about five years since I retired, moved to Marlborough, got myself a border collie and started walking a lot.  This is the time of year when I like to reflect on things and try to get a sense of how all that is working out.  As my life rushes toward that inevitability that we all face, the number of years, months, days and hours left to me ever dwindling, doing that helps me put things into some kind of perspective.  Everything that I’ve done in life, all those years and tears behind me, has led to where I am now.  But just where is that?

Is retirement a good thing?  My body certainly thinks so.  I am seldom sleep-deprived and I often glory in that precious jewel of old age, the midafternoon nap.   Or a nap at any other time of the day I choose, for that matter.  Although my body does complain in aches and pains when I whip it to keep it going on prolonged walks, I can follow a daily routine of exercise that keeps this “ugly bag of mostly water” (to quote a line from Star Trek) in as good condition as can be reasonably expected for someone my age.  That was not so easy to do while I was working.  Then there is that truly sensual experience of sitting in my recliner after a grueling trek, putting my feet up and relaxing every muscle in my body.  The resulting drop in metabolic rate and release of corporeal tension produces a flesh and bone ecstasy more profound than any splash of cool water on a very hot day.  That’s something that my soul relishes and I can indulge myself in it on any day at (almost) any time of day.  That was not so possible before I retired.

Retirement isn’t all do what you want when you want, of course.  Life still finds many ways to impose other people’s requirements on you.  There’s taxes to pay, of course, and rent, insurance, utility bills, and so many other things.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some kind of retirement account where all of that was taken care of automatically, or just made to go away?  What if there were an inviolable law that states that you can’t mess with retired folks?  They’ve paid their dues, just leave them in peace.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?  At the very least, you should be able to take care of business in your own good time, without harassment.  Okay, you’re responsible for taking out your own garbage, washing your own dishes and doing your own laundry, but why can’t a retired person just be left alone to seek such joy as he can find, in what time he has left?  Isn’t that what retirement is supposed to be about?  Sadly, you can’t entirely leave the world behind while you’re still in it.

One of the best parts of my retired life is Waldo.  I wanted to get a dog when I retired for several reasons.  Most importantly, I think, it was because I wanted a friend, a partner, to share the last few years of my life.  I’ve always really liked dogs and they, I believe, have always enjoyed my company.  I chose a border collie, because, after some online research, I discovered they are an independent breed.  Unlike many dogs who constantly seek attention, border collies are perfectly happy, and often prefer, to entertain themselves.  That leaves me with lots of time to entertain myself, something I am prone to do.  And yet, we are both there for each other when the need or desire arises.  Living with a dog has its challenges, but, by and large, it is so much easier, engendering more peace and calm, than living with a human.  People are so much more complicated. and peace and calm are the precious metals of retirement.  Sharing a life with Waldo has proven to be an excellent way to wind down my life’s story.  I do, thankfully, still have my beloved family, but they live somewhere else.  Close by, but not in my face.

So, I worked for decades, giving up my time and peace of mind for a few dollars, and deferring my comfort, while pursuing all sorts of career and personal challenges.  Now I am in a place where I can let most of all that go and largely just relax.  I’ve traveled down a meandering path that has led me to where I am now, but that was never the end goal of my journey.  The journey itself was the meat of the story that I’ve written and now is the time for me to savor it and wonder at the magic of it all.

It’s also time for me to take Waldo out.


…warmer and clearing the next.

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