Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 511 (298) Time Left

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

I've entitled this episode "How Much Time Left"

"Five years left", that is what the Youtube video said. A few years ago I typed in "retirement lifestyle" and this video came up put out by the government of the United Kingdom on retirement and longevity. It was filled with various graphs and charts. One dealt with the average life span. I still have 12 or 13 years left according to statistical data. Another dealt with how much time we have left after arriving at age 65 to enjoy good health. My figure left me with 5 years. Brenda still has 8. I've never seen that figure before and it seems to be stuck in my mind.

Of course none of us know how many more years, months or days we have to live. The figures are all an average. Some of us will not live to see the sun set today and others of us will become centenarian. We might have 20 to 30 years yet of good health.

Some time ago I read  of a 17 year old boy who stopped on a road in Anchorage to check the load of lumber he was hauling in a trailer. Setting sun blinded the driver following him and in a flash she plowed into his truck. His legs were severed. Luckily a nurse was passing in the other direction and stopped immediately. She ask people for scarves or anything from which she could fashion a tourniquet. Doctors later said that without her immediate help he would have surely bled out in a few minutes. He lived but his life has been changed forever.

One minute your healthy and within seconds you're minus two legs. It doesn't take long for fortune to change. Many times no warnings or hints are given. Death may come the same way.  

I want to focus on that five year warning. Of course I may have more or less time to enjoy good health but the number gives me a bit of a window from which to view the future. What if I match the statistical average? Does having that knowledge change the way I live?

I'm not sure it changes anything. I like to think that all the things I have ireally wanted to do I have done. Now I can reframe that just a bit to consider if I have left anything undone that might specifically require good health to achieve. I'm drawing a blank. Is my imagination that poor?

Working under the good health time limit I could focus on robust activities; play tennis, ride horses, bicycle across the country or hike the back country. I'm trying to imagine myself 5 to 10 years down the road and looking back at these five years and saying I....fill in the blank. What would I like to say? What would you say?

This is one of those moments that is either frustrating or very comforting. It could be frustrating if I had a long list of activities I would like to do that demanded good health. Five years would not be enough to work through them all. I would have to narrow them down and establish some sort of priorities and then get after them.

I find myself in the other camp. The five year of good health will be spent doing exactly what I am now doing. I can't see why anything should change. Perhaps this is evidence of a lack of imagination, low expectations or self delusion. But I like to think it is because  of daily consideration of what I am doing with my life. That sounds pompous and I hate to see it in print but I think it is true.

Our decision to retire at the first opportunity was not made without careful consideration. We have enjoyed twenty-nine years of deciding what we do with our life on a daily basis. If something we have wanted to do hasn't been done by now then we have been wasting our time and certainly don't deserve any more.

Our bucket list is empty. Oh, we still have things to do that are ongoing but as my wife said at lunch, "If we were to die today our children would have to say that we certainly enjoyed life to it fullest". That is such a comforting thought. For example: today started off with the daily routine of Tai Chi, classical guitar and then a twelve mile bike ride in radiant sun along the coast including Stanley Park in Vancouver. We ate lunch at BoJangles a sidewalk cafe along the water. Enjoyed a nap and we are now listening to some blues while sitting in a coffee shop in the heart of the city. I write and Brenda works a sudoku puzzle Not a bad day.

Good health will end. Life will end. We all need to consider that in our decisions about what we are doing with our life on a daily basis.   

This is Retirement Talk.

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