Coronado has a significant number of retirees. The word “retirees” has many connotations depending on your frame of reference. Some retire from life and just sit around waiting for something to happen. Others fill their flexible hours with meaningful events. The ones I know planned for retirement. They enjoy their expanded family time, have as much social interaction as they wish, contribute to the community, and stay active in volunteer positions. Ninety-year-olds still travel, walk, dance, drive, exercise, have season tickets to plays. They retired from the paying jobs only to switch to jobs collecting volunteer hours with a bit more control over their schedule to allow for the unexpected fun things.
Recent retirement articles reported that retirees listed reduced income as the most significant drawback they anticipated in retiring; however, they found socialization was the major issue to their lifestyle. They missed the camaraderie that work fostered. One reunion with lunch or a coffee break with former workplace friends was the extent of the contact after retiring. Loneliness set in for many.
A teacher friend near retirement once voiced concerns that she would be bored in retirement. I held my tongue and did not repeat my belief that “only boring people get bored.” Retirement dictates a change in our lifestyle, often a drastic change, but when physical ability allows, life can remain meaningful and exciting. Sometimes we simply need to take the reins and make it happen. When the no-one-ever-calls-me voice speaks, pick up the phone and dial a number. When the I-sit-home-all-day mood envelopes you, invite someone to lunch or to a movie. Attend the Senior Center events; meet new people. Our library presents interesting programs, often free.
The retirement articles, also, touted volunteering as providing satisfaction to retirees. In our military community, Coronadans trek to Midway regularly for shifts to share their experiences and enjoy the banter with other retirees.
A friend and former Coronado resident George Baland who lives in Ridgecrest volunteered with BLM giving tours to a multitude of fascinating spots in his local desert area. He enjoyed the research required to convey all the history and facts and spent hours gathering pertinent, interesting data. On our last visit, he gave us an extensive talk in his living room on the arsenic in the area. Then we took a quick ride to see the housing for one of the wells and the arsenic filter building. He had a weekly hiking group that repaired sites and cleaned areas operated by BLM; however, all his hiking buddies have died. He fills his time now with other productive activities. He may have slowed down, but he finds his comfort zone.
Statistics show that people who consistently attempt to help others enjoy life more. Coronado provides the opportunities, but you must take the initiative, make the effort. Meals on Wheels, the hospital, church visitation programs all use volunteers. Numerous clubs offer opportunities to meet new, interesting people who could become friends as well as offer activities both social and altruistic.
When I retired, I consciously decided to accept all invitations to anything for one year. Then I could decide what interested me. I started playing golf with my husband and two of his friends, volunteered in the hospital gift shop, joined a women’s organization, started playing Bridge, and began writing my grandmother’s monthly column as an unpaid contributor. Last year I added a book club to my monthly activities. More traveling fills my calendar, sometimes too full. We head to Florida to visit family whenever a family event happens. We travel to Europe, Tahoe, and Holden Beach each year plus take a Disney cruise with the family every two years. On my bucket list is a trip to New Orleans with high school friends and seeing some more of the Presidential residencies and libraries.
Many retirees find a part-time job, even when the job may not reflect their abilities. They have already fulfilled their major goals, so now the goal has changed to not being bored. Some drive for Uber or Lyft. One man became a grocery bagger. When asked why he, a successful businessman, would take such a menial job, he replied, “It gets me out of my chair.” Smart man.
Other retirees find enjoyment in reading, biking, travel, gardening. People are unique, and some senior citizens choose a simple uncluttered life. Travel no longer interests them, but they find enjoyment in their routine. No one wants to lead a boring life; what may be boring to me, may not be boring to you.
A recent Pearls before Swine cartoon had Pig saying, “How do you know if you’re leading the life you should be?” with Goat answering, “Steve Jobs had a great test. He said if today was the last day of your life, would you want to do what you’re about to do today?” Giving a chuckle to the serious topic, Pig answers, “Definitely not.” “Why is that?” “Because I’d see no need to pick up my dry cleaning.”
While every day of retirement may not be treated as what you would want to do on your last day, we retirees have the chance to choose the activities that occupy our time. Looking at your week, does it have your approval? Do you have things to anticipate?
Live your life so that you have only small regrets.