ON RETIREMENT

I’m retired. There… I said it. You got a problem wit dat..?

A lot of people, it seems, do have a problem with retirement these days. Used to be that when you were getting close to retirement age you looked forward to it. It represented a goal that was a kind of reward for having worked hard all your life. You earned it. And besides, you paid for it. Back in the day, 62 was the official retirement age, but like everything else that has anything to do with the federal government, Social Security has been tinkered with, retooled and, let’s face it, screwed up to the point where it bears very little resemblance to the thing it was designed to be. All the policy-makers these days refer to Social Security as an “entitlement.” Which it is: you worked hard, and you paid for it, thus, you are entitled to it. They seem to be saying it with a disapproving sneer, though. Don’t know about you, but that kind of pisses me off. A lot.

Now, for a Boomer like me, who was hatched in 1948, my “full retirement age” is, they tell me, 66. The policy-makers still urge people born in my time to work until they’re 70, though they’ll allow you to retire at 66, if you must. Slacker! So call me a slacker; I’ve been called worse. But after having been retired for a couple months now, I still don’t see the down side. My wife and I discussed my pending retirement, maybe two or three years before the blessed event, and during the countdown year we scaled back our spending, and essentially went into pre-retirement, spring-training, practice mode. It wasn’t so bad. When it comes right down to it, there’s a whole lot of stuff you don’t really need, don’t really want, and don’t really miss, if you don’t have it. Especially when you reach a certain age.

We’ve got a little money in the bank, and a couple of relatively small retirement funds to draw from, and we own our house. But we have nowhere near the $1.4 million or so that all the investment promos say you need in order to retire in the style to which you’ve become accustomed. Granted, we haven’t got a lot of trips to Europe planned; I’ve come, grudgingly, to terms with the fact that I’m never going to own a Lamborghini; and we don’t have a beachfront house down the Shore. But, again, the pre-retirement, spring-training mantra: “…don’t really need… don’t really want… don’t really miss.”

So… Down side? Monetary concerns aside, I still don’t see it. I could never understand those people (and there are a lot of them) who say, “Why would I retire? What would I do with myself!?” Huh? If you truly love your job and look forward to going to work each and every weekday morning, I fully understand that you might want to do it until you gasp your dying breath. I worked at a job like that for more than thirty years, and, had I still been working as a magazine editor, would I want to continue doing it? Maybe. But I doubt it. Why? Because work takes up so much of your time, and thus, your life, that it actually leaves little space for much else of value. When you factor in the hours you actually work, plus all the time you spend thinking about work, worrying about work, shopping for work-related stuff, etc., you realize that work takes up the clear majority of your waking life.

So, “why would I retire; what would I do with myself?” In the past when those questions were posed to me, I would generally answer: “I can think of a thousand things I would do if I didn’t have to go to work every day!” Now, while I understand that about 867 of those things require more money than a retired person would, in good conscience, want to spend, that still leaves at least 133 things you can do in your retirement! (And you can probably think of a few things that I haven’t.) What would you do with yourself!? Please! You would do just about anything you’ve ever wanted to do with yourself!

I keep pretty busy with chores and stuff around the old abode, and still have a good deal of time left over for some of the things on my bucket list: like more reading, more writing (like starting this blog), more time at the gym, learning how to play the guitar, practicing the guitar, planning to learn how to speak Italian, playing “Real Racing 3” on my Kindle Fire, tinkering with my baby (my ’02 Porsche 911), and spoiling my dog Sam to an even greater extent than that to which he is already spoilt. Clearly, I have yet to scratch the surface of the many things I will do with myself now that I am no longer a member in good standing of the work force.

Have you ever seen that commercial for some investment company in which a near-retirement-aged man sporting steel-rimmed glasses, a salt-and-pepper goatee and a wry smile says something like, “How would you feel if there were someone who offered to pay you to do the things you love?” And then the fashionably-casual, but still somehow distinguished-looking man in the ad says, “Isn’t that what retirement is all about?” I really like that commercial! You know why? Because, you see, I’m paying myself to do some of the things I love… I’m retired. There… I said it again. And I ain’t got a problem wit dat.

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