When you are a senior in high school or college people always ask what your plans are. It's like seniors have a sign on their forehead that says, "Ask me what I'm doing next."
And of course, we expect good answers like "continue my education" or "get a job."
I'm in the same situation. I'm not a senior in school, but I am a senior citizen. And ever since I turned 65 and announced I would retire, the first thing people have asked me is: "What are you going to do next?"
I don't know. Continue my education, get another job, maybe move to a tropical deserted island where no one asks these questions.
Give me a break! I'm only 65! How am I supposed to know what I'm going to do next with my life?
During all the years we work we think about retirement and what we're going to do when we get there. But in truth, retirement for most people is like the World Series for those of us who are Chicago Cubs fans. We talk about getting there but we never really believe it's actually going to happen.
I never thought I'd get to retirement so I didn't plan what I was going to do. So when people ask me what comes next, I've been telling them the first thing that comes to mind, something that I've wanted to do for decades.
And I'm going to schedule my naps.
The office has me scheduled for meetings well into 2015 and they're all posted on my cell phone calendar.
My first thought was, "I can delete all of those." But I decided to keep them. I decided in retirement every time my cell phone beeps to remind me of a meeting, I'm going to sit in my recliner and take a nap. And I think I'll email the people at the meeting a photo of me napping.
My performance reviews might not have been so hot during my work years. But in retirement I'm going to get "exceeds expectations" when it comes to napping.
People say retirement can actually get too busy. A retired friend warned me when people find out I'm retired they'll ask me to do all kinds of things.
Friend: "For the first year of retirement say 'no' to everything you are asked to do."
Me: "I have a 20-year-old list of things I'm supposed to do around the house. Does your suggestion include saying 'no' to what my wife asks me to do?"
Friend: "No. Not if you want to live into your second year or retirement."
Me: "Maybe in retirement I'll just sleep late. I'll sleep until 10 a.m. and maybe my wife will bring me coffee in bed."
Friend: "Maybe. But maybe you wouldn't like the way she'd serve it."
Maybe I won't be sleeping late.
In truth, I've been up early (for me). Without the busyness of work, meetings and running here and there I've already had time to stop and notice things about summer I haven't had time to enjoy for many years. I stopped to enjoy the sweet smell of new mown grass that had been cut by someone else. I sat on our patio and watched the clouds. I drank coffee on our porch and watched and listened as the birds went about their busy day.
I listened to the katydids, which took my memories back many years.
When I was a boy dreaming about what I would do next in my life, retirement never entered my mind. My dreams were of success and glory, saving lovely damsels and vanquishing evil. I might have read too many King Arthur stories.
We did not have air conditioning in those days and the windows to my bedroom were wide open to the night. Summer nights were still and quiet in those days, but in August the katydids began to sing.
The night air and my bedroom were filled by sounds performed over and again, thousands of times every minute: "chh, chh, chh, chh." In that music of the night with my head soft against a pillow I was lulled to sleep by the songs of katydids while dreams that would become my life danced in my imagination.
Last week my wife and I opened our windows to the cool night air. And once again, just as in my childhood, when the summer sun finally gave up the day, I listened to the songs of the katydids: "chh, chh, chh, chh." That music took me back to my childhood again, a simple time when I was a boy, free of cares, my head soft against a pillow dreaming what life would be.
I'm on the other side of those dreams now. I'm an older and more practical man. But once again I'm dreaming.
New to this thing called retirement, in the nighttime chorus of the katydids I fall asleep to wonderful dreams.
They're dreams of what I will do next.
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