October 4, 2016

Where Does 30 Years Go?

When I am asleep I am about 37. I have dreams of a younger man, accomplishing great things or having the normal young adult nightmares that affect us all.

Then, I wake up and my body reminds me I am 67. Stiff fingers, painful knee joints and a need to stretch for a few minutes jolt me back to reality. A look in the mirror is always disappointing.

So, my question is simple: How do I lose 30 years of my life between the time I fall asleep and the moment I wake again in the morning? This time travel seems to happen most nights. Collectively, I am losing centuries every several days.


It is a psychological fact that most of us perceive of ourselves as 20-25 years younger than our chronological age. We know that isn't reality.  But, our mind allows us to create an image of self that has the potential to give us the energy and perception of the future that is rather rosey. Instead of us being the the final third of our life, we think we have all the time in the world to accomplish what we want.

For more than 6 years now, I have written that retirement is not just satisfying, but potentially the most creative and productive stage of life. This nightly trip back in time doesn't alter that belief at all . I wouldn't change what I have now for any period in my past. 

It is just that I find this phenomenon interesting. Sure, I do dream about things in my recent past: a vacation we took with the grandkids, Betty's hassle with doctors and medical care, the RV breaking down in the Deep South, or coming home from this seven week trip to find the lawn guy never showed up!

How about you? Am I a little odd? Am I the only one who spends so much time in the "way back" machine?


16 comments:

  1. Freud would love this post Bob, he was all about dreaming. (ha). I think all of us dream about our glory days, they are memories we cling to. I guess the Bible says that after we die we go to heaven with glorified bodies, I have always wondered what age that body will be? I'll bet it is 30 years younger than when we died :)

    I have a menagerie of dreams. In many I seem to be lost for one reason or another. In many I have the ability to levitate, some are sexual, and some are very pleasant, some are downright weird. I dream wherever my mind takes me....

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    1. I usually find myself in a situation where I am late or can't quite catch up with what I am supposed to do. Many are centered around radio and some in an impossible situation with Betty where she and I are struggling to find a solution to something. Others are just odd and make no sense. But, I am younger in all of them!

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  2. I have just stumbled upon your site and find it very interesting. You are a good writer and I'm glad you've found blogging to be an activity you enjoy.
    My wife and I are not yet retired, but have been thinking of pulling the trigger. You mention you are 67 and somewhere on your site I read you have been retired for some 14 years. So did you retire somewhere around 53 years old? The reason I ask is that My wife and I will be just a year or two younger than that but are concerned about pulling the rip cord too early. You also mentioned you have a withdrawal rate in one of your posts for at least that particular year of about 3%. We were figuring 3% for our budget. Have you found over your 14 years that this percentage has allowed your portfolio of investments to continue to hang in there? Your thoughts and advice is appreciated. Most of the advice we get from our parents is to not retire although they seem to be enjoying theirs. We are just nervous I guess - change is always difficult for us. Thanks, Tim

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    1. Hi, Tim, and welcome to the blog. I retired at 52 after the slow decline of my business. We had always lived well beneath our means so we were able to make it work. But, the very poor rate of investment returns has made us even a bit more conservative.

      Yes, I have used a 3% rate with no problems. The overall portfolio has grown. For the next few years my adviser has allowed me to withdraw at 4-4.5% to fund more vacation trips while we are still healthy and have things we'd like to do.

      Honestly, I spent the first few years very nervous about my finances. But, then I realized I was going to make it as long as I stuck with a budget and adjusted as I went.

      In addition to finances, being emotionally ready, having hobbies or passions to keep you engaged and active, and being open to working on your relationships are very important to a satisfying retirement.

      Deciding to retire is a major decision, but you will know when it is time.

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  3. I find my dreams have a direct correlation to how late I ate in the evening, and what exactly I ate. If it was Mexican or something exotic I can be assured of some freaky/freakier dreams. I have always found my dreams to be unusual in that I am usually a bystander watching the proceedings, even if the dream was about me somehow. Oh well, maybe Freud would have had a field day with me.

    You mentioned the RV breaking down here in the South? What happened? Regardless, hopefully it was minor since you both made it home. We will also be setting off on a seven week trip the middle of the month, to be followed by a month back, and then another ten week trip. The longest stretches we will have ever done. Not by RV but still an adventure. And glad you and Betty made it home safe and sound.

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    1. We just passed halfway through the trip and are visiting my brother near Nashville. We will be home in late October.

      The RV air conditioner is acting up. I will have it replaced when we get home. After 10 years it is time. So far, it works with some coaxing. Temps are still in the upper 80's as we head to the Gulf Coast so we are keeping our fingers crossed.

      You and Deb..have some great trips.

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  4. I rarely dream anymore. Maybe that's because I'm really satisfied with my life, I don't know.
    b

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    1. Interesting. Maybe my satisfying retirement has some gaps!

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  5. When I read your blog this morning I had just been quietly sitting on the couch with our dog asleep pressed up next to me (she and I are slow starters sometimes and you will find us in that position for 30 or 45 minutes after we get up with her back asleep and me contemplating how nice it feels to have her there and in my head kind of planning the day or thinking over the past). - and one of the things I had been thinking about was that I was the same age as our daughter now is when our grandson was born – and he will be 21 this birthday. I remember that time as if it were yesterday and I certainly did not feel old – but I was 53 – and to someone who is in their 20’s or 30’s, I suppose I seemed old. And then I think about all that has happened since then!!!

    Time is a funny thing – I am the same age now that my mom was when she died – and yet I certainly don’t feel old enough to be THERE. I know I am when I look in the mirror, or try to do some of the things that I could do easily 10 or 20 years ago. And hubby and I just had our 55th anniversary!!! We are now the REALLY OLDER people in most groups.

    It feels odd since I am still waiting to feel like a grownup – at my age, my mom would have never worn jeans, and that’s pretty much all I wear – and shorts – oh my!! And I feel like there is SO MUCH I don’t know – and did I really accomplish ANYTHING in my life? But somehow these things don’t bother me – should they? One of my Grandma’s lived to 92 – and so did my Dad – and that is only 20 years away. If I live that long, will I still feel like I do now?

    I am pretty sure I never stopped to think about all of this 20 years ago – this email has no purpose other than to say that I think it’s better to outwardly look older, but inwardly still think in younger terms – I may think twice before starting major projects like “changing careers” but hopefully that will help me escape the mindset of a cranky old geezer!!!

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    1. Knowing you as well as I do, I doubt you and hubby will ever be cranky old geezers!

      Great summary of what many of us are thinking and feeling. I can't image my mom and dad wearing jeans and T-shirts in their 60's and 70's. That just didn't happen.

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  6. I don't dream as much as I used to. Maybe I'm not recalling them? When I do dream, they are usually set in the present day and often involve some issue in need of resolution. After a return from a trip, my dreams in the week following took me back to Lisbon where I was schlepping through the streets, trying to find my way, just like when we were there! As my life satisfaction has increased, my dreams have decreased. I am enjoying the 5-6hrs of uninterrupted sleep and waking up in my own rhythm, not waking to an alarm clock and rushing to meet the demands of the formal work day and getting out of the house <8am. I'm still not over the slow mornings of retirement, that allow me to enjoy blogs such as yours. Now this age thing, so unavoidable. It's all relative, isn't it? I just turned 60. I'm just a kids to someone in their 80s. I'm reminded of cleaning the cemetery with my dad 15 yrs ago. He was looking at his dad's grave and said - when my dad died, I thought he was an old man. He was you kids' age. I read a quote recently - we don't have to live forever, we just have to live. So in my birthday week, I hosted a party which included a house concert, did some fall yard work, processed tomatoes, went kayaking and walking, washed windows, did some housework for others, shopped for a new vehicle, wore my jeans and boots. Yes, my joints ache but I wouldn't trade the aches for the experiences.

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    1. You are the second person to note the level of satisfaction during retirement affects the frequency of dreaming. How interesting! I like the quote about not living forever, just living (while we are alive).

      Thanks, Mona.

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  7. I have a lot less dreams than I had while working, perhaps because of the late work dinners and hotel nights that went along with my job. When I do dream, I too am often back in my younger years, sometimes with family, old friends (or boyfriends!) and back in my hometown. They're all younger, too! :) I do think what and when I eat tends to produce the strangest dreams. But I pretty much sleep like a baby since I retired. Just another lovely side effect.
    --Hope

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  8. I've always felt that you age normally until you are 35, then you just stay there (in your mind anyway).

    - David

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  9. Hmm... am I seeing a gender pattern in these responses? It seems to me that men, more than the women I know, see their younger years (anywhere from 19-40, depending on the man) as the prime of their life. Women seem to come into their own more as they age. This is a particularly interesting observation because it is aging women, more than aging men, who are denigrated in our culture. Maybe we are afraid of the power and wisdom of older women?
    I don't have a lot of vivid dreams. When I do, they are mostly set in the present or recent past. -Jean

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    1. Sorry it took a few days to post your comment but checking comments is sometimes a chore from an RV park.

      Thank you for your interesting observation. I agree older women are often marginalized but I am not sure I see the dream connection.

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