Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 539 (328) Irresponsible

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

One thing I enjoy about retirement is the freedom to take risks and act "irresponsibly" - the kids are all grown - no-one is actually dependent on me anymore so I feel free to play - climb cliffs - swim in shark infested waters or whatever - maybe take up hang gliding?  Or at the very least spend my limited funds "unwisely" and it's nobody's business but my own!"

That is a quote from a letter I received this week from a thoughtful, enthusiast, retiree.

Her thoughts blended nicely with a recent video I saw entitled Advanced Style. It has to do with New Yorkers who are definitely in their senior years and who are very style conscious. They dress. They dress in the most colorful and creative fashion I have ever seen. You can you tube the site and see for yourself. As one lady said, "I'm an eighty year old woman with a 17 year old mind." She has a unregulated sense of style and exhibits it whenever the spirit moves her. Another said that at this advanced age you can dress with no one in mind to please but yourself. “If you like it, you wear it.

Being Irresponsible is not option I have considered in retirement. Certainly I have done things on the spur of the moment but to do something that stems from seeking some sort of irresponsibility is a novel idea. I'm trying to made sense of the idea.

The first President Bush took up up sky diving around age 88. I'm sure a lot of people would call that irresponsible but I must admit it gained my admiration. His attitude and action elevated his status in my mind. It shows spunk.

For some reason the whole of idea of becoming irresponsible is so very attractive. Now I just have to think of something that might fill the bill.

Thinking about what we are doing with our life of course is the goal of this podcast. And now that I consider doing something irresponsible I begin to realize that I have done a lot of irresponsible things in my life but not during this retired phase. I didn't wait that long.

Examples might be leaving a secure comfortable job three years out of college and along with my pregnant wife and two year old son into a 1965 Mustang fastback. We strapped a big trunk on the back in 1968 and drove west and north without a job,  without money and without a firm destination. I know my mother and especially my in-laws thought it to be irresponsible. We end up with a career in Alaska that proved life changing in so very many ways; and all positive.

Then there were all the summers where friends of mine went commercial fishing and made tons of money when we went biking, hiking or some other seemingly senseless direction and always returned to start the new school year broke.  

Then there was the decision to retire at the age of 44 (41 for my wife) and vow to never work again. We wanted to change our lives and did. I'm sure our family and friends thought we would get different jobs or that we were completely crazy. It probably did seem irresponsible but it seems to have worked out

Now that I pause to consider the irresponsible I think of the time I got off the train in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness with just a light rucksack. I marvel at my stupidity. Talk about risky. The seasoned conductor warned me several time about the danger of grizzly bears in the area. He also admonished me for not carrying a gun. I insisted on getting off. I wanted to stake some land in the wilderness for a future boys camp. The silence after the train left was deafening and the big brown bear that I soon encountered persuaded me to return to the train tracks and flag down the next train south. Irresponsibility writ large.

I'm not sure we have to do something irresponsible but perhaps we just have to be aware of the possibilities. If we just keep our eyes open and our head up they may come to us rather than having to be rationally conceived. Of course they may never come our way and then we are stuck with our usual routine. When I say stuck I amo at once countered by the thought that this usual routine is something that we may have dreamed of for years. There must be something good about arriving where we wanted to be and then accepting it as good.

Another email arrived in my inbox just this morning expressing this point of view:

"I am just a student ...but i see my grandpa... enjoying his life after i can tell u how you can enjoy your life morning go for a walk ...then do some simple exercise.. chat with your with some children then ...take a nap///..... watch television... do not forget to eat healthy food.....enjoy life,........"

Perhaps if we leave the door open to an occasional trip to the risk taking, irresponsibility area it is enough. We don't have to swim with sharks, walk with the grizzles or take up skydiving on a regular basis.

This is Retirement Talk.

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