Saturday, September 14, 2019

Does Anyone Know What's Next?

     B and I have been busy lately. But we've also been wondering: What's the point? Are we doing anything meaningful? Are we making any difference?

     To be honest, B worries about this more than I do. Still, I look at my calendar for the week. I see that it's full of activity. But at the end of the week I wonder: Have I accomplished anything?

     B is busy volunteering at her church and doing yoga at the YMCA and visiting with her new friends. I keep busy doing my blog, playing weekly golf with a group of retired guys, going to table tennis at a local club.

     Fortunately, neither one of us has to spend too much time on doctor appointments. She had her cataract surgery. I go to the orthopedist now and then for a checkup on my back and my knees. We joke about how as we get older, it takes more time just to take care of our daily routines -- stretching and doing our exercises, making an effort to eat right and take our vitamins,. and ... er ... it seems we spend a lot of time looking for reading glasses, searching for car keys, and fiddling with something that's gone wrong on the computer or the phone.

     Now both of us have started in on our new semester at the Center for Learning in Retirement, held at our local college. I'm taking a history course on the Civil War and a literature course on James Joyce's Ulysses. Also, B and I for the first time are leading our local chapter of the Socrates Cafe. We hope that will be interesting, and not too challenging.

     But still, maybe because it's September, and even though I've been out of school for decades, there's still that feeling that we should be starting something new. That somehow we should be moving up to a new school or at least a new grade. Or maybe starting a new job.

     One reason for this feeling -- this low level of floating anxiety -- may be that we've spent the last four years finding our place in retirement, relocating our home and establishing new lives. That has been a big project, and through it all we knew there was an overarching goal to our efforts.

     First we spent a year decluttering our old house, fixing it up and putting it on the market. Then we spent a year living in a one-bedroom condo and traveling around four or five states looking for the place we wanted to resettle. Then, after we finally bought a new house, it's taken us two years to fix it up and to find new friends and new activities.

     But now most of that has been accomplished. We're done with the house. We're settled in. We'll still be meeting new people, trying out new activities -- I'm thinking about joining our local photography club, for example -- but the major items have been accomplished. So what's next?

     B is leaving in a few days to go babysit her two grandchildren in Charleston, SC, while the kids go away for a few days. She's looking forward to that. Then we're planning our November trip to see my daughter who's expecting my first grandchild.

     We'll be going back to see my daughter in February, after the baby comes. We don't know how long we'll be staying at that point. We don't know how much she'll need us, or want us. But then it will be on to Charleston again. Even though our grandchildren live hundreds of miles away, we want them to know who we are, and that means we have to visit for more than a few days once or twice a year.

     We have used Facetime to talk to our oldest grandson, who's 2 1/2. He's old enough now to recognize us on screen, and to interact with us to a small degree. Anyway, he's happy to see us, if his laughter and his antics are any way to judge.

     I wonder: Just as we have settled here, with our focus on our new house and our new community, is our focus now going to turn once again . . . to our grandchildren and what they will mean for our future lives? I don't know. But I guess I'm coming to realize, once again, that we do our best, we try to make some impact, and then life moves on.


Sandra said...

Sounds like a rich and satisfying life to me.

Barbara said...

I admit that being near my Grandkids has greatly influenced where I live and what I do with my weekends. I like it that way although I like to daydream about going to other places. But then my life as a single person in middling good health is quite different than the two of you are able to share. Life is always in transit and that's probably a good thing. To me, it sounds like you two have great fun and interesting activities. I think you have found the perfect solution for now.

dkzody said...

You are certainly busy. As you get older, and longer into retirement, you may jettison of these activities and find others to add. Stay flexible, and remember, it's your time. Enjoy every minute of it because it goes so quickly.

Tom said...

As far as Grandkids influencing where we live ... if only they'd agreed to live somewhat near one another. But our kids are spread out from New York to South Carolina. So what are ya gonna do? And dkzody, don't worry, when the time comes I'm ready to give up ping pong and head to the shuffleboard court ... and with my knees, that time may come sooner than later!

DUTA said...

I see Retirement as our last chance to have a dialogue with our Self (mind and body), give it Priority. Looking for 'activities' is running away from our Self, once again.
As for grandkids - not sure whether it's such a great idea to live near them as You'll have to explain certain things. They'll soon be struggling for life in a world created by their ancestors - not a good world.

Unless there's some sort of reconciliation within nations, especially the ones that are supposed to serve as an example to the world (USA, and UK(with its Brexit disaster),they'll be very angry at their parents and grandparents.

Gail, northern California said...

After I retired I suffered terrible pangs of guilt if I wasn't busy every single second of the day. Finally, one day I thought to myself, "What are you doing? You worked all those years so that you could do absolutely nothing. Period. Stop beating yourself up. The housework isn't going anywhere. Do what brings you joy."

Olga said...

Seems you have nice balance of taking care of yourselves, having some fun and contributing something of value to others. Not a bad life to have at all.

Kathy @ SMART Living said...

Hi Tom! While I'm not yet fully retired...more like "semi-retired" I have discovered that I am happiest when I have projects to work on that mean something to me. While I like having fun as much (maybe more) than most people, they must be framed with projects that matter to me. blog and my books are very important to me just for the creation of them, regardless of how successful they are. My husband Thom and I also have a few other real estate projects in the works that also add interest and spice to our experience. Then throw in some travel and I'm a happy camper. I think finding those projects that provide meaning are a real key to a happy life...retired or not! ~Kathy

Rian said...

Tom, you and B are definitely busier than DH and myself. And even though we are considering joining the local Senior Center for their exercise facilities as well as possible classes, we do feel that our weeks fly by busy with our own activities (house, yard, cats, kids, grandkids, projects, friends, etc.) However, as far as 'making a difference' goes - not sure about that. We do belong to our neighborhood crime watch patrol - guess that's something. As yourself, our kids are spread out - with only one son and his family living close by. But we see the others fairly regularly, so it has never been a hardship. But do we know what's next? No... but haven't been overly concerned about it.

Linda Myers said...

Getting from there to here was an enormous project. And now you are here. One of the things I love about retirement is that I can "say yes" to whatever comes along that strikes my fancy - or calls my name. I would never have imagined I'd become a mediator, or a refugee aid worker. We can do anything now because we can do it for free.

We've decided to spend a year in Tucson, where we usually snowbird. Our kids are in Washington, Oregon, Oklahoma and New Jersey, and our grandchildren are nearly grown, so we enjoy the occasional gatherings and watch them as they live their lives.

I've recently resigned from activities I've done for years and am now waiting to see what's next. I know it will come along.

gigi-hawaii said...

You have a wonderful life, as you have many interesting things to do.

Arkansas Patti said...

You seem busy both mentally and physically which is a goal for most of us. Plus you are making the grands a priority which is pretty darn special. With our families these days spread out like ripples in a huge pond, amen for the Internet and face time.

DJan said...

I've been retired for more than a decade now, and my days are filled with activities. I spend most weekday mornings first at the coffee shop (with friends I care about these days) and then a workout at the local YMCA. Yoga twice a week and in no time, the days are flying by. I usually fall into bed feeling ready for a rest. Hopefully this will continue for awhile longer, but I too am willing to take each day as it comes. :-)

Wisewebwoman said...

You write well of finding a new identity or expanding on the old in latter years.

Without a partner I find I have a little more independence apart from health issues. I am free to pursue my own dreams or interests which I do.

My only downside is my health issues, the lack of mobility which was such sudden onset and a shock. I accept that now.

My days are full too with a lot of community service, and activism fits in there somehow. I am most content, however, in my creative zone.


Rebecca Olkowski said...

One thing we have as we get older is our voice and we can make a difference by using it in so many ways. That's one of the reasons I love to blog and I'm sure you do too. Sounds like you have all sorts of activities to choose from and they all seem so interesting. You'll find the next step along the way. It will present itself and you'll know it when you see it.

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

I often end my uber busy days wondering if I really accomplished anything!
I know I'm one of the lucky ones. Four of our six children have settled right here in the same town, so most of our nearly-21 grandchildren live right here. And are over daily. This is my life now.
And I'm loving it!

Anonymous said...

One of the the best things about being retired is that we have the luxury of time to be able to throw spitballs against the wall. It's great if it sticks permanently. If it doesn't stick or it only sticks for a while, that's OK. But the trick is to keep throwing spitballs. Adapt and adjust, but keep moving.

David @iretiredyoung said...

I'm roughly three years into my early retirement and I'm at the what next stage. Similar to what you described, the time to date was spent arranging various aspects of my new life which worked really well as part of the transition. But now that phase is either coming to an end or has ended, and the feeling of what's next is a little unsettling. On the other hand, I treat these conundrums as a challenge that I need to solve - I think figuring these things out can be a satisfying part of my early retirement. If everything about it were easy, then that might be a bit boring, and that's not what I'm after.

oldwahoo said...

Great job in getting organized and laying the groundwork for a happy, healthy retirement.

Wondering if some involvement in philanthropic/civic activities might be the ticket?

Jennifer said...

Sounds like you're searching for meaning in your retirement. From my perspective, maybe you already have it but can't see it yourself. You're both continuing to learn and grow, hosting the Socrates Cafe and taking classes shows your commitment in this area. But if you feel like there's something more that you should be focusing on, perhaps it's time to start meditating on that subject to see what comes up.

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