Time is the greatest gift of retirement: sweet, uncommitted, all-for-me time. Time is what I most longed for during my working years, when I left the house at seven-fifteen and rolled back home at five or six—or later, during play rehearsals or homecoming week or prom season. Now, I know that teachers don’t have the corner on exhaustion. I can only imagine how tired a cop must be at the end of her shift, or an emergency room nurse, or a store manager who stands all day. We working stiffs are bone-deep weary when we come home.
Well, we were—er, I was. I was tired in body and mind and heart, capable of only the occasional burst of words at my computer. After work and family obligations, there was almost no time for me. But now that I’m retired, I have oodles of time me-time, time to write.
But isn’t it funny how easily we can fritter away our precious time? You know how it goes: you sit down at your computer to do some work, something you really want to do. But let’s check social media first—uh oh. A film clip of cute goats frolicking leads to an article about raising goats, which leads to a recipe for goat cheese and leek tart, which leads to an article about why you should never eat cheese, which makes you hungry, so you go get a snack and—whoops! Have I really been sitting at my computer for two hours? What a waste of time.
Then again, is retirement perhaps our opportunity to finally waste some time? Is it good for the soul to just noodle along, following your interests? It would be interesting to designate one day per month as Whim Day, when I do whatever I feel like with no planning and no judgment. I wonder, if I kept a journal of what I did on such days, would any interesting patterns emerge? Probably not—I’d probably find myself back with the frolicking goats.
The bittersweet aspect of all this free time in retirement is the knowledge that my time is growing ever shorter. It’s not that I’m fixated on death, because that would be a pointless waste of time, but I am aware that I have fewer years before me than I have behind me, so the time to reach my goals is NOW. This knowledge is very motivating—if I could just get past those damn cute goats.