Street Tales: Why I’m thankful for retirement

For the past several years, I had it in my head that retirement would be a blissful time with no one forcing me to do anything I didn’t want to do.

I could just sit back and relax, and if I wanted to do something like a hobby, I just went ahead and did it. And when I had enough, leave it until the next time. In other words, retirement would be a real blast.

I retired from my day job in 2009, and then from the kitchen in June 2018. I figured that at 71, I should be able to take it easy, and so that was my plan.

I had planned what I would do, such as build things in my garage/workshop. After all, I had been doing just that for years; it was my training and I enjoyed it.

When the time came to retire from my day job, I was surprised to find that it would take four months before I would set foot in my shop. I couldn’t summons the energy or the will to tackle anything.

I can’t really tell you what I did, but whatever it was, it did not happen in the shop. I just didn’t want to be there.

Now, several years later, as I sit nursing arthritic hands, at times, I still wonder if I was right to retire when I did.

Age spots on my arms and hands, plus all the other aches and pains that seniors are often afflicted with, quickly told me it was the right time.

I still check out my Canadian Tire and Princess Auto flyers and my mind immediately comes up with all kinds of projects and plans, until my brain finally connects with my body and shuts things down. Oh, well, at least dreaming is free.

What no one told me is that after retirement, a minute still has 60 seconds, an hour still has 60 minutes and so on, they just seem longer.

All that time has to be filled with something other than work. It’s not easy, but it can be done. Having said all this, you might think that I am not enjoying my retirement, but that is not the case.

What is true, is that it does take a little while to determine how to fill your 24-hour days, but once you have that down pat, enjoyment takes over.

What I did not anticipate was the loss of identity. In a working world, often one is identified by what they do; for example, maintenance man or a mechanic or cook.

But when one retires, gone is that identifier. So it behooves us to find something by which we can be known, so that once again, we can feel useful and have a purposeful life.

There’s a saying that goes, “Money is not everything, but it sure beats what’s in second place.”

All the planning ahead and setting aside, saving and anything else we do to prepare for retirement is generally met with costs that have escalated faster than our savings have grown. Even the costs of hobby materials are much higher than before.

In my retirement, I still have one milestone to achieve: I want to sleep past 6 a.m., but the lyrics keep coming up, “To dream the impossible dream.”

Oh, well, I do enjoy the luxury of lying in a nice, warm bed on a cold winter day.

All the health and wealth issues aside, in this country, we are blessed in that we have the system we do for aging and retirement. All our needs are met, unlike in many countries, where you work till you drop.

And believe me when I say I’m thankful.

Chris Salomons is a retired Red Deer resident with a concern for the downtrodden.

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