A recent post by blogging friend, RJ Walters, caused me to pause (and that is a good thing). He was pointing out that the retirement blogs he reads, including Satisfying Retirement, seem to often paint an overly optimistic picture of life after work. He wonders if the descriptions are realistic. Don't retired people get bored, or lonely, or depressed, or unhappy? Is every day just another day on the good ship lollipop?
Nowadays by nature I am an optimist. I'll freely admit I didn't used to be that way. I could find the dark cloud in every silver lining. And, to reassure those who wonder if I am floating high above all of life's problems, the answer is certainly,"No." I do get bored on occasion. Sometimes I feel somewhat adrift in my life. Too many times, I struggle to be the type of husband I want to be to my bride of 37 years. I can be a real jerk. I have periods of self-doubt. My faith life was pretty much non-existent for way too many years and I still find myself turning to human solutions when I should be directing my thoughts elsewhere.
Certainly, there was a rough period of two or three years right after closing down my business in 2001. I have written several times about the second stage of retirement: that time when all the worries and second guessing seemed to occupy all my thoughts. I didn't know how to fill my time, except with television, endless hours of reading, and lots of naps. I was marking time.
Then, I found an interest in ham radio. I got my Federal license, joined a club, made new friends, and eventually became president of the organization for three years. I rediscovered the importance of faith in God in my life. I took a six month training program to become a lay spiritual counselor. I stopped most of my worrying about whether I had planned well enough financially. I began to see more silver linings and fewer dark clouds.
My interest in writing has been a part of my life ever since a creative writing class in high school (thank you, John Durkin). But, I had never found an appropriate outlet. The great American novel wasn't waiting to spring forth from my mind. Except for radio programming and rock music from the 1960's and 1970's, I wasn't enough of an expert in any particular field to write a textbook. So, I filled many journals and waited.
Three year ago (June 25th) I started blogging. I found my outlet and a subject I had enough experiences in to share my thoughts with others. At that time virtually all the retirement blogs available dealt just with the financial side of life after work. Except for a few notable exceptions, the blogging world lacked many voices that seemed to deal with the full range of interests and concerns of building a happy retirement. Even the phrase, satisfying retirement, turned up virtually nothing on a Google search. Try it today and see what you find!
There may be times when I appear to have all the answers. There are more times than not when my readers and those who leave comments seem to be living a stress-free, uncomplicated, "Leave it To Beaver" existence with nary a cloud on the horizon. I think a closer reading of what the comments say and what is written between the lines should show that isn't really the case.
But, no matter. The world has way too much negativity and people tearing things down instead of building them up for me to want to be part of that crowd. The world is a dangerous and scary place that really doesn't care if you succeed or fail. I see my "job" for now as describing a type of life that is available after retirement....not "the" type of life, but one example: mine.
How do I know? Because I have been walking this road for a dozen years. Will everyone find the contentment and satisfaction I have found so far? Of course not. Is my retirement without bumps and stumbles? Don't be silly. Heavens, my IRA lost 30% of its value between 2008-2010. Talk about scary. But, I'd be less than honest and certainly no help to readers if I didn't emphasize the good stuff I have uncovered.
No one needs to be reminded of how tough life can be. Read the paper, watch TV news, or simply observe the world around us for a nonstop stream of the problems we face. Do we really need another voice claiming doom and ruin are bearing down on us?
If so, you won't find it here. I have admitted my past failures and will continue to do so when appropriate. I will continue to describe how my satisfying retirement is unfolding, in both positive and negative ways. I will strive to not duck the tough issues. But, I won't dwell on them. That's not who Bob Lowry is in June of 2013.