Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 426(272) Vacations

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

"You're always on vacation", I heard someone say. "You're retired". We retired folks know that this isn't true. We are not always on vacation. We have a life that flows along on a daily basis sort of like the work world in that it becomes routine. At least it does for some of us. We established routines but on occasion they cry out to be broken. When we do break them we call it a vacation.

My sixteen year old granddaughter suggested this topic for a podcast. We just returned from visiting her and her family in Alaska. I was talking to her about how great it was to get a change of pace; a change of view, a breakout of daily routines. We had been talking our life away for two weeks. No TV. No movies. Every night we found ourselves gathered in the living room and talking. Talking about this and then that.

During the days we made runs taking or getting her or her brother from school, doctors appoints, dentist appointments, music lessons, etc. etc. We spent sunny days on perfectly groomed cross country ski trails. Anchorage has a plethora of carefully crafted trails that suit all levels of ability. It felt so good to get on skies in March sun with snow everywhere and vistas that ranged from the Chugach Mountains to Cook Inlet and Mt. Denali.  I had wondered about doing this at my age but there was no problem.

Temperatures hovering around twenty degrees added a note of exhilaration to our exercise. It clears the lungs and the mind. And then there was the moose that would just not move. We carefully waved arms and whooped trying to scare her into the woods so we could pass. Eventually it ambled down the trail the same way we were going. When the trail forked it went one way and we went the other.

Afternoon coffee shop stops seemed to be the only daily routine that we took with us. Each day we had company on our drug run. Conversation continued. It was great. We jumped from shop to shop on a daily basis. Always something new.

It is the change that a vacation offers to the retired that interests me. It pulls us out of our element. We see and hear a different world. Though we are retired we still need this little variable in our life. Work can drag you down but so can daily routines during retirement.

Don't get me wrong. I like routines. If you think about what you are going to do with your days or your life it is best to establish good habits that keep you on track. You spend your life doing what you really want to do rather than just being blown from this to that by the slightest breeze. I don't want to over state this because part of the beauty of retirement is allowing for serendipity. I have to interject here a perfect example that happened about a half hour ago. I was writing this podcast and had just finished the last sentence when a neighbor came into the coffee shop. We had a nice thirty minute chat. My routine always allows for the unexpected conversation when it presents itself over writing one of these podcasts. With the right attitude one can always allow for immediate change when the opportunity presents itself.

Back to vacations: another good thing about vacations is that it shines a new light on the life we now live and the life we may want to lead. We can lay out plans, read travel logs, browse book stores and magazine racks, and have something to dream about when we take our afternoon nap.

Even today, just 12 hours after returning from Alaska my wife was looking at plans for a trip to the East Coast this spring. I wasn't much interested because it involved flying which is not one of my favorite things to do. I don't know if it is age or being over six feet tall that accounts for the dislike.

Then the idea of taking a train one-way coast to coast dawned on me and I sat down at the computer. Within minutes it started to  look like a real possibility of doing something we have never done. And it will keep me out of airports and cramped airplane seats. It will be a vacation. Going via a different mode of transportation; spending three days rambling across the country and seeing if riding the train is as romantic as the songs portend.

Being retired doesn't mean that vacations are meaningless. They work for us just like they do for others. They recharge our batteries. They bring freshness into our mind and bodies. They help us re-create ourselves. We come back with renewed vision and interest in life.    

Maybe it is time to climb out of that easy chair do something totally different.

This is Retirement Talk with something to think about.

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