B said to me the other day: "Now I finally know what retired people mean when they say every day seems the same. I can't even tell when it's the weekend anymore!"
She went on to explain that before Covid, we had some structure to our lives. I played table tennis on Mondays and Wednesdays, did my tutoring on Thursdays. She led her therapy group on Thursday nights and went to church on Sundays.
But now we have nothing on a regularly scheduled basis. We do Zoom meetings, but they are catch-as-catch-can. We will see friends for an outdoor get-together, but again, not on a regular basis. The only constant we have right now is watching the Philadelphia Eagles game on Sunday. And we're not even football fans! We only do it because it's an appointment we can hang onto.
I remember, when we first retired, we wondered how we would spend our days. We knew there'd be some tension between enjoying all the time in the world and finally be in charge of our own lives -- and the responsibility for creating some structure and meaning in our lives. Would we find new activities, new friends -- and new meaning beyond work and children?
We were surprised how easy it was to fill our time. So easy that we wondered how we managed to to hold down a job. The search for structure and meaning has been more challenging. But we were getting there until . . .
. . . the biggest surprise of all: Covid-19. People talk about how Covid-19 is exacerbating the trend toward digitalizing our lives. We don't go to stores anymore, we shop online. We don't have dinner at other people's homes, we talk on Zoom.
I think Covid has also forced us into a more traditional retirement. Today, we're not getting out, not traveling, not getting a post-retirement job, not doing as much as we thought we would. So we have time to make breakfast every morning, sit around and drink coffee and read a book or troll the internet. Dinner is now a daily event, when it used to be something we often rushed through on the way to a meeting or event.
Has Covid changed your life? Do you think the changes will continue after the Coronavirus has disappeared?
One thing I've loved about retirement is that my stress levels have gone down. Way down. As a result I lost about 15 pounds. But now the stress is building again. I'm not sure why. Maybe the feelings of confinement, maybe the anxiety of waiting for this thing to finally end.
So I find myself snacking in the afternoons. I try to take a walk, but I'm not as consistent as I should be. A schedule is what got me to exercise regularly. So since this all began in March I have gained back a few pounds.
One thing I have not done -- but should -- is try to develop a new skill. Several friends have discovered the joy of cooking, now that they have time on their hands. One friend of mine has taken up painting -- and you know, he's not half bad! -- while a couple I know is starting to learn Italian -- in preparation for a trip to Italy they intend to make as soon as this is all over.
In some ways retirement has actually prepared us for the Covid lockdown. We don't have to worry about work or a paycheck -- and that is an incredible blessing in this world. Also, I've become more comfortable with my own company, and in retirement B and I have already figured out how to spend more time together.
Finally, I'm really surprised at how long this pandemic has lasted. Remember March? We thought it would go away by summer! But now I wonder -- what surprises await us next year? Will Covid linger longer than we think? Will we keep up our new activities, or go back to the old normal?
I always thought retirement was a time for quiet reflection, for comfortable days and serene sunsets. Who would'a thunk it would be so full of surprises?