As I draw further away from the pier of employment and move out into the stream of retirement I find that I have been fooling myself for a long time about a number of issues. The extra time available to me to read and sleep has made me contemplative – and I have gained a number of insights:
a. The possessions of others were once a source of jealousy. Not a lot – just a little – but enough to unsettle my appreciation of the things I own myself. It is becoming less relevant now. I can look upon someone’s expensive motor car and feel no pang. Indeed, I have come to realise the delightful utility of my own small sedan and would not trade it for any of the fancier vehicles. I also appreciate the fine public transport facilities we enjoy and the cost to me – nothing during the day – is a source of real joy every time I travel on them.
b. There are a lot of possessions I once desired that I can now see on a shelf and feel no call to. Even books – my preferred medium of enlightenment- can be seen but left. If they are of stupendous price, as many are, I have a perfect excuse to look elsewhere.
c. A great deal of potential existed in my house and shop that I never realised. Now I find it and can put it to work for better living. There is something wonderful about using a piece of timber that has stood in storage for 30 years in a project.
d. The schedule for doing things has spread out. Each thing I do can be contemplated, done, and appreciated afterwards. Even if it is just doing dishes it can be an accomplishment.
e. People can be very helpful if you approach them properly. Now that I have discovered that I am not suited to be hoity toity, I suspect I never was…and I can be more relaxed in all my dealings. I have no more status to imagine that I am maintaining, and the relief is palpable.
f. You need not eat or drink to excess. Very little keeps the body running well.
g. Other people are in the same boat. The experiences can be common. Retirees can talk to each other.
h. Follies seen at a temporal distance can be charming. When you young and committing them and then embroiled in arguments defending yourself they are things of despair. Now I can watch others similarly engaged and take inexpensive amusement.
i. Music has outlasted newspapers and magazines as a connector to former times. You can listen to the old-time radio station all day while doing other things and essentially it doesn’t get old. Oddly, stage plays actually outlast motion pictures as a source of dramatic satisfaction in later decades. With the exception of Shakespeare, of course, whose works are used as an instrument of depression by English teachers…
The only things I would currently change are well beyond my fiefdom; increased traffic on roads that are always being dug up and resurfaced, the increased pressure that drugs put on the community, and the vile political economy of religious manipulation. I must cope with them the best I can.