They say, “Careful what you wish for.”
(Who is “They”, you ask? Anyone to whom I’ve ever complained about my life. “Oh, Merida is SO hot in May.” “Oh, I WISH it didn’t rain so much in the summer.” I have a great life, I’ve been extremely fortunate in my oh-so-various jobs over the last 40 years, so whenever I have the least little complaint someone calls me on it by either pouting out their lips and saying something like, “Oh, pooooor youuuuuu!” Or they say, “Careful what you wish for”, which really means, “Shut up, you ungrateful piece of crap.”)
But I digress.
They say, “Careful what you wish for”. As I turn 60 this year and Steve and I begin to contemplate a retired life, that phrase keeps popping into my head during certain times in our lives.
(60! I look at that span of time and realize I have much more time behind me than in front of me and that scares the hell out of me and makes me want to run and hide in a cave – a well-appointed cave, mind you.)
But, again, I digress.
(A symptom of being almost 60.)
Shit, did it again.
So there are times in my life when I have achieved something, gotten something I wanted, ended up in a place I wanted to go, started that “dream” job, gotten married(!)…and then experienced that feeling of regret, or longing for something else, something more – felt that feeling of ennui. I realized about a decade ago that I’m an extremely restless person - I always have been, but just realized it when I was in my late 40's. I’m rarely satisfied with the status quo; I have to be constantly busy. And in that busyness I have, sometimes, experienced a sense of accomplishment and tranquility. I have been very lucky to pretty much always gotten whatever I wanted. But then, when I do get what I want, I hear myself say, “Careful what you wish for.”
(Several years back I had the job I always dreamed of. I was a theatre teacher, and I loved it…for three years. Then those old feelings began to set in and I got utterly bored. That was the ultimate “Careful what you wish for” because after that I was not only utterly bored, but utterly lost. If my “dream job” couldn’t keep me satisfied, then what could I do that would? Which brings me back to the present…)
Oops, did it again.
So here we are in Merida. A wonderful city. A growing city. An historic city full of vibrant, hard-working, forward-thinking people, young and old. We have a great little business, we meet people from all over the world, our back yard is a paradise, we are putting aside a little money for retirement. It’s a great life. But as I approach 60 years of age, as my knees snap and crackle, as my right ear canal pops when I chew, when the knot on the sole of my foot aches, and when that palsy shake begins again in my left hand, I cannot help but look forward to the time when we might retire.
(I seem to be rapidly deteriorating, physically AND mentally. The worst is the palsy in my hand. Thanks for the remembrance, Mom. Whenever I look in a mirror – and I try NOT to do that very often – I see my father. But in every other way, including that nice palsy in my hand, I am like my mother. Hers started when she was in her mid-70s. I guess it begins earlier and earlier with each generation.)
Ah, digression…another symptom of dotage, I suppose.
Our retirement plan is to live 6 months in one location and 6 months in a different - warm - place each winter. But then I wonder what I would DO all day. I have no hobbies, other than writing. I don’t like video games.
(as so many of my Facebook friends seem to – “Jon just invited you to the Angry Birds Challenge”, whatever that is. I still have no idea what Candy Crush is.)
Do I take up pottery? Continue to post a blog every day and continue to get lost in the untold millions of Internet blogs all searching for an audience? How many books can I read in a day? Do I make cute videos for my Facebook page? Or, better yet, make a bunch of those really awesome memes and pass them around the World Wide Web? “Live For Today!” “That Person In The Mirror Is Your Best Friend!” “Careful What You Wish For!”
(Okay, I admit it…I just looked up “meme” to find out exactly what it means. Seems it is a piece of text, video, or other image, altered in some way, conveying some kind of message, and meant to be shared across the Internet. (Across the internet? Around the internet? Throughout the Internet? On the Internet? To the Internet?))
Oh, this is getting really bad…a double digression.
(I see your double and raise you a triple.)
Okay, so in retirement I will have more time for the things I now squeeze in each day. I won’t have to rush through my stationary bike ride or “run” to the store for something we need for the B&B, or beg the workers building the palapa to “hurry and finish because we have guests tomorrow.” I will be able to complete projects on MY schedule. So the house is torn up; who cares? No more rushing to answer all the emails piling up in my inbox. I will be able to get back to bike riding for fun.
(I used to be such a bike rider. When I was a kid I would bike sometimes 50 miles a day. There is a road in Louisville - River Road - which runs from downtown Louisville, along the Ohio river about 25 miles to a little suburb on the East Side of the county. I cannot tell you how many times I biked along the river, stopping here and there, exploring abandoned riverfront houses, grabbing a Coke at a local store. I cannot wait to get back to biking.)
But then I wonder about filling an entire day. How do I do that? “Careful what you wish for.” I can’t bike 12 hours a day. I cannot watch movies all day long. I cannot exercise more than about an hour. So what do I do with the other 14 ½ hours each day. Oh, sure, eating takes up 2 hours, if I stretch it. So that still leaves over 11 hours a day to fill. And I don’t want to just fill them. I want to DO something.
I have never been the type to sit around very long. Don’t get me wrong, I can potato a couch like no one I know, but even I get tired of sitting.
(Unless it’s for a binge-watching session of “Grace and Frankie” or “Scandal”, my new guilty pleasure.)
My new goal is not to diversify, but to concentrate on one or two things and try to be as good at them as I possibly can. Can I write 4-6 hours every day? Will my fingers allow me to become the pianist I never was? Long story short (I know, too late), is that I will never, really completely retire. I will have to have something to work on…something to build - create. And I already have my next start-up in mind. I’ve begun the financial prognostications and am working on what it will take to bring it to fruition. The only difference is that there will be no pressure to make it an instant success. I will be retired. I will be able to take my time. Mold it. Research it thoroughly. I may be soon asking my friends to join me on my new venture – hiking tours through Italy.
So as you can see, I have no answers, really. I just keep trying new things in the hope that one will stick and that it will continue to challenge me and keep me interested. I mean, I really love hiking. It's the one thing I don't get to do enough. So perhaps that will be my answer. Maybe I'll spend my 60's and 70's walking as many of Italy's hiking trails as I can find, and along the way have another great business, peace of mind, and a fulfilling retirement.
And if it is a complete failure, just wave as you pass me on my bike.