(Originally posted August 10, 2009)
How did I manage to get myself in this place---laying my modest stories on the table for anyone to read? There must be a million ways that lead to where I am today. I suppose my path has been as unlikely as any. For a whole career (actually a pair of different careers) I tried my best to please the right people. After all, it was their opinion made my choices right or wrong. Most of us will do that for a paycheck. Until, that is, the day arrives when they tell us we’re free to please only ourselves.
Retirement 101 I called it, the first grade of a brand new kind of school. The thought of it was seductive. The fact of it proved disappointing. In fact, I very nearly flunked Retirement 101. I started out assuming that it would be an easy thing---using the skills I’d gathered over the years, answering only to myself. After all, I was on my own. Actually, we were on our own, the two of us, about to be surprised how differently each of us understood what that meant.
I stumbled around for nearly five years, trying to make sense of retirement, before I bumped into my storytelling obsession. Looking back it feels like it been there all along, waiting to draw me out of my funk. Of course, there's been a lot to learn, but that is the attraction. For some, that can mean finding something that draws them beyond themselves. In my case that "something" pulled me deeper within myself. Either way, it has us looking ahead. That's an important October lesson to learn.
I believe that "something" is waiting out there, in one form or another, for everyone. It’s a very individual, very personal thing---but it's there, waiting to be found. I hope you’ll take the opportunity to explore the possibilities, in what ever form you choose to pursue.
Having waited a lifetime to get there, why shouldn’t retirement be a liberating experience? For perhaps the first time in my life I have only myself to please. (Correction: it always works better when it pleases Her too.) The thing is, if even a few readers get a slice of the enjoyment I receive from telling these stories, I’ll count that as a win.
For another take on being ready for retirement, check out Nancy Schlossberg's article.