Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 762 (314) Limits

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

I’ve titled this podcast, “Limits”.

Retirement has its limitations. We are older. Our bodies do not move like they once did. Through the glass doors next to this coffee shop where I write are some young kids in a ballet class. They bend & stretch in ways I can hardly remember. Just observing the twisting, turning, leaping, kicking and all sorts of other movements leave me breathless. At this stage in life I am not about to pursue either. One worn out piece of advice that seems to hold true all of our life is that we need to "pick our battles' '.

We did dance after retirement:: ballroom. It seemed much more suited to our age group. It was so much fun to step out on the floor three nights a week and cha cha, tango, waltz, fox trot or rhumba. Our bodies not only could handle these dances but they seemed to thrive on them. Our age does limit what physical activity we choose but it doesn't chain our bodies to the ground. We just needed to pick something a bit more appropriate than ballet and karate.

One place I notice a limit is my ability to sit on airplanes for long flights. That had to stop. This is a bit of a disappointment but not unanticipated. If you are still not bothered by the time spent in a cramped airline seat you’re lucky. At least for us tall guys the allure of such travel quickly fades.

Travel is one of the chief activities of retired folks. They like to visit the Holy Land, Las Vegas, Hawaii or Europe. They line the decks of cruise ships and fill the seats of tinted window tour buses. They can and do travel. I have to admit that I am not one of them.

Not because of limits but because I don't want to. It is possible to be retired and not want to travel in this fashion. Luckily for us, we did quite a bit of traveling earlier in life when we could rough it just a bit more.

But I digress. Travel during retirement is possible, it is just the method that has limitations. We don't hike like we used to. We don't fit well in Volkswagen Vans and we don't sleep well in cheap hotels found late at night.

We have found other methods of travel that suit us. Most of the time it includes short flights and  longer stays. Or we like to drive the roads of our own continent. Combining all of this with the wonders of Home Exchange and we have a travel plan that has worked well for us in retirement.

Of course RVs seem to be the preferred method of travel for many. They like that sense of carrying their home on their back. The same bed every night. The reliable home cooking and the freedom to stay or move on a daily basis. Millions of these roam our roads every day.

Even more exotic are those who choose to live the retired life of sailing. We live on the coast and we have what seems like more sailboats than people here. Many of us may be limited by money to indulge in such travel. RV people tell me it is an expensive way to go. "You don't save anything by having an RV,'' said a friend. And when it comes to boating they all talk about pouring money down a hole.

We may not have to think about money. Others may retire with strict financial restrictions. This limitation is not one that is reserved to the retired. It is with us all the days of our lives. Spending less than we make seems to be the only solution no matter our age.

We all work under limits from the time we are born. We can do some things and we cannot do others. We learn to live within our limits. It is part of becoming an adult.

We learn to adjust from wanting to be an all star athlete to being an electrician. We learn to adjust from wanting to be a movie star to being a teacher. We learn to live in the world as it is rather than the world as we want it to be. We learn to pick our battles and try to move ourselves and the world in a positive direction. The limitations tend to become only the framework within which we live our lives. Our grandchildren learn this every time their parents send them to their room for a time-out. It starts early.

I always think of Eileen Allen (age 92) when I consider limitations. (Check out Episode 204 Making the Most of It.) As a professor, her life was based on reading. In retirement she lost her site. She started to memorize poetry and during our last conversation she thrilled us with her recitation. She thrills others and is requested for readings. She smiles. She pauses and then she launches into a poem that paints a picture of the exotic and interesting.

We got an email from a friend a few years ago when he was celebrating his 88th birthday in Sarasota, Florida. "Going to dinner with my granddaughter and her Dad. Got myself a massage and just got home from my playwriting class. Busy day for an 88 year old." 

I am not good at discussing limitations. I've always looked for the opening. Maybe I learned that when I was a high school running-back.

This is Retirement Talk.

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