LIFE AFTER RETIREMENT — BRING YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR
There is life after retirement! But bring your sense of humor because there will be bumps in the road. For one thing, no matter how you feel about it, you’re getting older. You can’t stop it. Not with wishes on birthday candles, Botox, or jazzy sports cars (both of which I say go for if they make you happy). And getting old can be fun if you do it right.
RETIREMENT — THE MORNING AFTER
The first day of retirement feels kind of like a Monday holiday — you have the day off. Hooray! You stretch and lay back on your pillows luxuriating in freedom. You can spend the day doing anything you want. Maybe have a picnic, go to a movie, or take the dog on a long walk by the river.
But this is not a Monday holiday — it’s for keeps. And sooner or later an excess of freedom isn’t so much fun. You start asking yourself, what am I going to do all day? Starting to feel old? Then, you’d better grab your sense of humor and get creative.
HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN OLD GOT SCARY?
How old were you when you first thought [i.e. worried] about getting old? I was eight.
Eight, and I already knew old was bad — you couldn’t play or have fun anymore. I knew because my sister was old — she was twenty-eight. She didn’t even know what fun was anymore. She told me the best thing about being twenty-eight was the cost of car insurance went down. I loved my sister. I felt awful for her. And I never wanted to be like her — and I never wanted car insurance.
RETIREMENT — DOES OLD START NOW?
Whether we retire at sixty or eighty, there is some little part of us that flashes a signal — Old Starts Now. We push it down. But it sneaks back because of impressions we got when we were kids.
A lot of retired people lived on Petain Street — and they were all very old. The retired women didn’t seem to do anything but sit on front porches all day every day. The men retired to rake leaves. When that was done, they took to their armchairs and TV. All Grandma did, when she wasn’t on the front porch, was cook cornbread and read the Bible. [Now that I think about Grandma, she also spent time with me — singing songs and playing games. Maybe that was her passion and what made her life fun. https://lifefunscripted.com/singing-old-folksongs-with-grandma-childhood-memories/ ]
This was the picture I carried with me all the way to retirement. But I was wrong! Retired doesn’t mean rocking chairs on front porches. It means fun because we’re freed from a lot of silly baggage.
LIFE AFTER RETIREMENT — HANG UP YOUR HANGUPS
Throw away the rulebook. The only rule you need is the one we learned in preschool: Keep your hands to yourself and have a good time.
#1 HOW WILL IT LOOK?
How will it look? What will people think? Ha, ha! We don’t care. And that’s the most exhilarating feeling. For one reason, we’ve learned by now that the other people probably aren’t thinking about us at all. And if they are, how sad for them because we’re going dancing.
Remember the time when you wanted to do something different — something silly or outrageous? Now you can. So do something on a whim. Buy that sports car. Or put on a bikini and head for the beach.
#2 ARE YOU CHICKEN?
No. Not anymore. I don’t know exactly when we cross the line, but suddenly we’re brave. We’re doing things we would have been way too scared to do when we were younger. I met a woman who said she had always been afraid to try out for the church choir even though she loved to sing. She wouldn’t even sing out loud in church for fear the people around her would hear. Now she’s not only in the choir, she’s singing solos.
Hey! Those things that looked fun and exciting really are — mountain climbing, jet skiing, drag racing — I have drag racing on my list. What did you secretly want to try but didn’t because you were afraid?
#3 WILL THEY LAUGH AT ME?
I hope so because I’m not this funny by accident. So laugh — because I’m a cartoonist. I draw whimsical art — cartoons and funny animals. I used to be afraid they weren’t good enough to submit to contests. Now I’m taking them to art shows and I’m drawing them on greeting cards and selling them on Instagram.
Why should we be afraid of failing? We’ve already done it enough times to know failure isn’t fatal — unless you’re skydiving.
#4 YOU COULDN’T HAVE GOTTEN AWAY WITH THIS AT FORTY —
At a certain age, you earned to right to speak up — like at the dinner party that goes on and on. It’s well past dessert — yet the guests linger. Been there? You’re tired but it’s your house and you can’t say anything — when you’re forty. Grandpa Sam wasn’t forty. He went upstairs. A few minutes later, he appeared at the top of the stairs in his bathrobe and said, “It’s late. The guests are tired now and need to go home.”
Be cantankerous and adorable — Faye was ninety when she took a class at a community college. They were holding auditions for a play. It was a musical and Faye couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. But she went to the audition.
When the director told her she didn’t get a part, she was outraged. “It’s because I’m old. Admit it. You don’t want old people in your show…” and on and on until he said he’d find a part for her. He told her to come to rehearsal Tuesday night at eight.
“You expect me to come out at eight o’clock at night?! Are you crazy? I’m old! I can’t come out at night.”
#5 YOU CAN’T DO THAT. Like %^&##! I can’t!
People — mainly your kids — will tell you things you shouldn’t do. Worse, they’ll tell you what you can’t do. Do them anyway (as long as you know you’re able). It’s funny how impressive you are to people who don’t think you can do anything.
“Mom, what did you think you were doing? You can’t be getting up on a ladder or painting the fence. Now you’re getting down and repointing the bricks on the patio?”
Yes. And I dress myself and make my own bed, too.
LIFE AFTER RETIREMENT
Yep. There is life after retirement! Bring your sense of humor and you can smooth out those silly bumps in the road. You’re gonna get older but you can make it fun. Take those birthday candle wishes and make them true.
Sing out loud. Paint a picture. Audition for a play. Get Botox if it makes you feel good. Buy that jazzy sports car. And laugh.
Life is fun if you do it right.