July 20, 2021

Mmmm… Where to start. Where to start.


Handle every situation like a dog.  If you can’t eat it or play with it, just pee on it and walk away.

– Anonymous


There is a thick overcast obscuring the sky as Waldo and I start our walk.  The time is ten minutes before 5 AM and the sun won’t come up for about another 20 minutes.  Still, the predawn twilight is bright enough to make everything clearly visible, but, without shadows, everything appears somewhat flat.  Even at this hour, it is quite warm, around 73℉, and the air is heavy with humidity.  Birds are singing their early morning songs and insects are all abuzz.  A soft breeze is playing in the trees and it’s not just the aspen foliage that is shaking its leaves in princess waves.  Rabbits and squirrels are out and about, scurrying here and there, doing their morning rituals.  Everywhere I look, living things are filling their time with the things they do.

Before I retired, I often wondered if I would have a hard time filling the hours with meaningful activity.  I should not have worried.  Now that I’m retired, my days get filled without any effort on my part.  It just happens.  I wake up, a bunch of stuff happens, and then I go to sleep.

When I was working, all my days were filled with gotta-dos.  You know, gotta get up, gotta get in the car and go to work, an overwhelming plethora of gotta-dos at work, the gotta-dos at home that sustain life in the twenty-first century — grocery shopping, cooking of meals, getting gas for the car, paying bills – the endless gotta-dos in the daily battle to stay alive.  I had a friend who defined life as a constant battle against degeneration.  Perhaps, but anyway, life before I retired was certainly filled with things that needed to be done.

Now that I’m retired, to-do lists and gotta-dos have not gone away.  I still need to go grocery shopping, cook meals, get gas for the car, pay bills and so on.  There remains plenty there to fill up the day.  But there is a difference.  A pie chart of my life’s activities and to-do lists would now show a bigger slice labeled wanna-do, and a smaller wedge labeled gotta-do.  That’s nice.  However, it’s also true that some of the wanna-dos are less likely to turn into got-it-dones because of the relative lack of resources.

Then there are the should-dos, the could-dos, the would-dos, the might-dos, the will-dos, the won’t-dos and the there-is-no-way-in-hell-I’m-gonna-dos.  In retirement, there seems to be fewer of the should-dos and that goes along with the smaller number of gotta-dos.  The could-dos are more numerous because of time available, but diminished by not having a work-income anymore to support them.  The would-dos provide a reservoir of possibilities that one can dip into to create wanna-dos and the might-dos need only the desire and energy to turn them into gonna-dos (of course, as I age, both my desire and energy is ebbing a bit).  Many of the will-dos are really deferred gotta-dos and even some won’t-dos that we lie to ourselves about.  Some won’t-dos are pretty self-explanatory, but they can also be gotta-dos that have passed their expiration date and become won’t-dos by default.  The older I get, the there-is-no-way-in-hell-I’m-gonna-dos pot gets bigger and bigger and, thankfully, is better tolerated by those around me.

At any age, and any condition of work, the trick to life is to get the venn diagrams of all your dos to overlap in such a way as to produce enough got-it-dones to make one’s life full and meaningful.  This juggling is no less important in retirement than it is while still working.  It’s particularly important before one retires to make sure the really important wanna-dos don’t turn into man-I-wish-hadda-dones.  Once one retires, he can still turn the wanna-dos into got-it-dones, but time is short, energy and endurance are limited and the bank account is shrinking.  Post retirement, one can spend more attention on emptying the bucket of wanna-dos and that can feel somewhat liberating.  But time remaining is ever rapidly evaporating and opportunities are drying up.  The trick, as it always is, is to find a way to get the dos done without making a lot of doo-doo, and stepping in it, along the way.

At any rate, thinking about all this has filled my attention out here on the trail, instead of just appreciating the moment, and Waldo and I are on our way home to relax and cool off in the AC.  You know what?  The hell with it.  I can hear my recliner calling; I’m gonna take a nap.

Because I’m retired and I can.


“Come to me… Come to me!”

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