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Rv Rx

1 Dec 02

You have retired. Congratulations.

So what're you going to do with all that time?

If you are married, no problem. Your wife will tell you what to do. If you are single, it's a little more complicated.

First you have to grow a beard. Sorry, it's required. Sean Connery looks good in a beard, why not you? You discover holes in your coverage. Carve around them. God, that thing is white. The sideburns will probably go first. It's still white. This mewling monologue will rise to anticlimax one morning when you will stare blearily into the mirror, hear a strange voice mutter "yuck", and find yourself clean shaven once again.

Michael Jordan looks good bald. Maybe you should shave your head. Of course. Make a virtue of necessity. Whew. Who knew? Too much maintenance. Makes you look like a chubby P.O.W. And you still can't jump.

Important matters like these, and the requisite periods of repentance and repair, should get you through the first few weeks. In the end you will look a lot like yourself again, just in time for the retirement party. There's a reason why they delay those things.

If you should happen to ceremoniously bury your alarm clock in the garbage can, you will find your sleep patterns become disrupted. It may be hard to find a cafe serving breakfast at 2 in the afternoon. Worry not. Eventually the spidery hands of your biological clock will precess through the day, and you will end up where you've always been. More or less.

Or you could buy another alarm clock.

All you have to do is get up every morning, do exactly what you want to do, and not a damn thing else. How hard can it be?

Harder than you thought.

You may grow peckish, find yourself picking small fights with inoffensive people. Like the clerk at Walmart. (Good Grief. Would you like me to count that for you?) You will read the paper for hours, though there's no more in it than there ever was. You will fall asleep in the afternoon, and wake up wondering where you are.

You will begin going over your medical records, making pointless doctor appointments, "just in case". This habit will lose its charm during the prostate exam.

You may idly consider useless activities like golf, or water aerobics. You may become a persistent dour presence on newsnet. If you are lucky, you will discover long walks, and may lose a few pounds.

You will notice the buzzards circling during your walk. Pay no mind. They have always been there.

You will eat too much. If you smoke, you will become a regular chimney. As you reconsider your finances, you will find that retirement is remarkably like more life with less money. You will read books on investing in the stock market, in an attempt to reactivate your bullshit detector. You may succeed.

At times it may all seem just too much for you. Don't worry about it. It always has been.

There is a name for all this. Post Retirement Disorder. Don't look it up, just trust me. You are circling yourself. Unlike the dog, you will catch nothing that way.

There is a cure.

Break the circle. Get moving. Where you go doesn't matter so much as the mere act of moving. Go, go, go. Go until you are engaged, stop when you catch up with yourself. If you find yourself a poor neighbor, move out of your mind in the middle of the night.

It is called vacation for a reason. You vacate yourself. It can be done anywhere. You can escape into books, into music, into teaching, into going back to school. I am told you can even escape into grandchildren for a while.

But it may be useful to make the metaphor concrete, to actually cover ground. You don't want to become the proverbial goose, and "wake up in a new world every morning". You can end up drooling that way. But you should at least try a new view out the window. You can even honk. Go ahead.

Such mornings encourage the imagination.

Bear in mind that travel should always involve some element of danger: pirates, brigands, love, storms, speed, loneliness. Something that hints of the momentous, something that stirs up the short term forecast.

Fact is, you are just not important enough to take up your time. Computers have a reset button. Why shouldn't you?

Move on, past the past. It doesn't take that much. Boredom makes you old. You can't afford to bore yourself. You are old enough already. So get off your ass.

And congratulations on the retirement.


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