Sunrise, sunset.

As I sit here watching the sunrise, it seems like a good metaphor for this entry. Or maybe it is just a good way to spend a little time early in the morning before the day really gets started. I thought this sunrise was going to be a spectacular one and it still may be. There are a few clouds in the east which had started to pink up, but they have faded back to gray and it is still a while before the sun crosses the horizon. I’ll keep you posted as I continue to write.

I have thought a lot about what I would like to do with all that time which may comprise the next phase of my life, retirement. I have a plan. I am smart enough to know that I do need to have some idea, some goals for myself, otherwise I will just fritter the time away in frustration, boredom and futility.

Ah, now this sunrise is showing some promise. The clouds have gotten rosy, deep rose at the bottom shading to a coral at the top. The colors area deepening steadily and now are all brightening as the sun approaches. Very nice. I think I’ll just watch for a few minutes. It’s wonderful how sunrises work. They start as a tiny patch of color and grow to fill the whole sky staining clouds you didn’t even know were there. It changes constantly. Blink, it’s different. Look away, look back, it’s changed.

One thing I do want to do is take more time to observe and think about things. My life to this point has been one of generalities and dabbling. I have rarely taken the time to really explore anything deeply. I knit a little, but not very well. I write a little, but not very well. I cook a bit, but am not expert. I want to take the time to get really, really good at a few things instead of being sort of good at a lot of things.

It’s really fading now. All the clouds are the lightest pink shading back to gray.

What are you going to do with yourself?

Sometimes, when I talk about retiring, people ask me what I am going to do with all that time. Because they seem to imply that retirement is a bad thing, I usually infer that these are people who so identify with their jobs that they see having no job as a condition to be avoided. I don’t think that way.

I grew up thinking that retirement was something to eagerly anticipate. My father talked about retiring early and going to Florida for as long as I can remember. That was his goal. He achieved it by retiring when he was 55 and moving to Florida. His father and mother had retired to Florida in the 1940’s. Their choice of a place to spend their “golden years” had a great influence on him and on me. Unlike many people, I had two generations of successful retirees as examples.

When I got my first “real job”, I was lucky enough to be approached by an agent who sold annuities for an insurance company. I made the decision to start investing in my retirement at that early age. I did this not because I was wise, but because of the examples of my father and grandfather. Retirement was something a long way off, but it was something I knew would eventually arrive. I steadily saved. Now I have the means to consider a life without a steady job and the income one provides.

All this doesn’t address what I am going to do with myself. While I was teaching, I had three months in the summer of miniretirement. I often didn’t do well with filling that time. I often found myself bored and grouchy. I’ve learned from those summers. One factor which contributed to the boreddom was often it was too hot and too humid in Kansas, where I lived at the time, to do much outside, so I had to contend with summertime cabin fever not unlike what I have been experiencing here in Laramie this winter. I realize now I have choices. I can find meaningful occupation when the weather is bad. I can bundle up and go out anyway. I can go elsewhere. Each of these options has merit. I suspect I will counter cabin fever with a combination of the three. The key is to avoid the mindset which beings on the funk of feeling trapped by the weather.

More the next post….