Will Jones, his story about being retired
I retired in June of 2011 after a long career in public education. Ever since, the first questions anyone asks when they haven’t seen me for a while are “How do you like being retired?” and “What are you doing to keep yourself busy?” Some people, who aren’t retired, ask those questions with a good natured edge to their voice, while others, who are or are about to be retired, genuinely want to know how it’s going.
It seems there is some fear out there among boomers that the transition to retirement will be difficult, tedious, boring…even depressing. That hasn’t been my experience. In fact, it’s been just the opposite. So when people ask those two questions, my first answer is “I love it,” and my second is “How much time do you have?”
First of all, retirement meant a huge reduction in responsibility, a significant weight off my shoulders. I immediately felt lighter in spirit and more energetic. With the elimination of constant “work thoughts,” my creative mind reawakened. I started writing articles for a local magazine, keeping a daily journal, starting an online blog and filling a notebook with poems and other ramblings. I also started playing more music (guitar, harmonica) and picked up the tenor saxophone. I have a wonderful seventy-six-year-old teacher who comes to my house every other Monday for a forty-five minute lesson. A friend and I have played at a few events under the name FreeWill, taken from the first part of his last name (Freeman) and my first name. It suits us perfectly and we continue to practice and expand our song list.
I started a book club called The Short Attention Span Book Club, comprised mostly of male friends. We meet once a month, alternately choosing a book from Column A (Classic) or Column B (Contemporary). We have a 250 page limit, and so far it’s working out beautifully. On my blog I post Short Attention Span Book and Movie Reviews, and friends check in regularly for updates.
My wife and I have been on two very rewarding vacations, one last fall to national parks in the southwest (Grand Canyon, Canyon de Chelly and Mesa Verde), and one in the spring to New York and Boston (Broadway shows, historical sites, meeting our new granddaughter, Fenway Park). Regular hikes on beautiful Central Coast and Big Sur trails, backpacking trips in the Eastern Sierras, and golf (no cart) have helped keep me physically fit, along with other exercise routines. Frequent participation in cultural events keeps me psychically fit.
Finally, regular service activities keep me involved in the welfare of the city I love, San Luis Obispo.
Looking ahead, I don’t see the need to make many changes in my new life. I try never to be in a hurry and there is nothing better than the sound of the alarm clock not ringing, although on most days I’m usually up by six anyway. If year two comes close to rivaling year one, my “attitude of gratitude” will grow even stronger, and retired life will continue to get better. “To boldly go where millions of my fellow boomers are going…”
photo by will jones
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