Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 483 (254) 1000 Months

One thousand months. That's one way to look at how long we will live if we arrive at 83 years and three months. (That is about the predicted average life span.) Out of the 1000 months a third of our time will be spent sleeping. That leaves us with 666 months (bad number for some religious folks) of waking hours. That's how many months we have to do something with our lives. That's not so long.

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

Somewhere in the past I read that most Americans spend about four hours each day watching television. That would figure out to be one sixth of the one thousand. That would be about 166 months in front of the tube. Add that to the time we sleep and that leaves us about 500 months out of our time bank to do something with our lives - other than sleeping and watching the tube. Hummm. One half of our total time sure disappears fast.  

All of this math makes me dizzy. What does the time stuff have to do with anything. We live; we die. Do we really need to do the math?

Not if I have already established good life habits. Not if I am satisfied with the way I am spending my time. Not if I am getting out of life what I really value. Not if I am comfortable with the way I am withdrawing and spending from my time bank.

Do I really like to spend my time before breakfast doing what I am now doing? If the answer is "yes" then I can  check that one off. Do I really like spending my time doing what I do between breakfast and lunch? Between lunch and dinner? After dinner? Do I really like to spend my time on weekends, or vacations, or holidays doing what I am now doing? If the answer is "yes" I can relax and live it out.

If the answer is "No" then perhaps I need to change my ways. If I don't know what I am doing with my time perhaps I need to pause for an hour or two and do some calculating. Perhaps with a real calculator and with my own mind.

My wife and I do a lot of things together with our time but we have our differences. She likes to read with a lot of her time. She puts me to shame when it comes to reading books. I spent one winter in Alaska reading a book a day. I was trying to empty the library. I've always read a lot but when I retired I decided to limit my reading. I wanted to a little more time thinking for  myself and a little less time reading what other people thought.

She also likes to do crossword puzzles and sudoku. I can't stand to do either one. People are different thank God. It would be a pretty boring world if we all liked to do the same thing with our time.

My neighbor likes to do yard work. He's been retired for twenty years. He is always in the yard. He mows the grass one direction and then mows it another direction. He gets down on his hands and knees and pulls out little types of grass or weeds that really don't belong according to his preferences. "I'm just making work," he likes to say. He's in his early eighties, or mid-eighties and has been doing this throughout retirement. He also goes up to the college and participates in a strength training class three days a week. He's also been doing this since he retired. He's a bull of a man and all of the physical work shows. He takes one pill a day to thin his blood and has been taking it since he was 43. He's eighty five and a pretty healthy guy.

He also likes to read. All of my magazines get shuffled through his hands and then he donates them to the public library.  He's a great neighbor. He's doing what he likes with his time.

I over heard a conversation in a coffee shop while working on this podcast where a young man - perhaps 30 - was explaining to friend why he was quitting his very satisfying job and leaving town. He said, "I just don't want to have any regrets when I die. I want to have a wife and kids and I know that If I don't take off and do this now I will probably never do it."

"I don't want to have any regrets". It takes a certain amount of forward thinking to conclude this. It also takes a large amount of courage to realize it. Maybe the young man in the coffee shop did the math concerning one thousand months.

What are you doing before breakfast? Between breakfast and lunch? Between lunch and dinner? Between dinner and bed? You only get a total of 500 months - if you're lucky.

This is Retirement Talk with something to think about.

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