Today is my third day of retirement, and I am thoroughly enjoying it so far. Prior to my last day at work, people would always ask me, “What are you going to do?”
My standard answer was, and still is, “more reading and more writing,” and I have done so thus far. I have always enjoyed those two activities early in the morning, but now that I don’t have to rush off to work each day, I can leisurely spend more time with my books and with my thoughts.
I am currently reading a 1995 book entitled How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill, and I am working on two new books of my own: I’m putting the finishing touches on Streets of Golfito, a novel about my Peace Corps experience in Costa Rica almost 50 years ago, and my wife, Barbara, and I are also writing a book about our elder daughter, Maria, who passed away from cancer four years ago at the age of 30. As Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” so I guess I’m still examining.
What else will I do in retirement? I have lots of ideas, probably too many. I definitely want to explore more thoroughly hobbies that I have dabbled with in the past, hobbies such as drawing and playing the guitar. But, believe it or not, I also enjoy new, mindless pastimes such as coloring and assembling Lego kits for adults. In the recent past, I have received as gifts two adult coloring books, and I have previously completed small Lego kits of the Lincoln Memorial and the White House. I find these recent endeavors so relaxing.
How about exercise? Yes, I will definitely exercise more. I haven’t been to the gym in well over two months because of the quarantine, but Barbara and I have been walking and biking more often now that the weather is improving. In fact, I’m becoming a bit obsessive about our neighborhood bike jaunts. When we get home after riding, I highlight all the streets we traversed on a local map, and now my crazy goal is to ride on every street in town before the summer is over. The idea is insane, I know, but fun, too — exploring the neighborhoods I have passed often but never stopped to visit.
Any home improvement projects? Yes, we have a few of those. In fact, Barbara has already written about five or six short-term projects on my to-do list, items like sealing the driveway, power washing the deck and shed, and either repairing the old wooden planters out back or buying new ones. Long-term, too, she’s already talking about renovating the kitchen and purchasing new living-room furniture. My days could be filling up quickly.
Honestly, though, I’m feeling just a bit apprehensive about retiring in the midst of this pandemic, especially with all that has happened nationwide since George Floyd was senselessly murdered. A part of me feels like I shouldn’t retire because our country is in such turmoil now, and maybe I should continue to do what I do best — teaching young people how to use the written word to communicate. Another part of me, though, realizes that maybe I can contribute to our healing in other ways: by volunteering more in our church and in our community and by looking for — and being open to — new opportunities to serve, opportunities that might not even be evident to me today.
So what lies ahead? I’m not entirely sure. I feel like I’m 18 again, and I want to do absolutely everything. And I haven’t even mentioned travel yet or spending more time with family. So day by day, I guess I will figure it out, as others have done before me, and I will gradually fill my calendar with activities that I hope will be both fulfilling for me and beneficial for others. Just don’t be surprised if you see me biking through your neighborhood with a map and a highlighter.