April 25, 2023

Why am I sharing my thoughts about retirement? Because everyone wants to commiserate with others who are going through similar emotions and events. Nobody wants to feel alone. This is why we go to support groups for everything from grief to divorce, this is why we go to church and synagogue, this is why we join Meetup and find others who do the same activities, think similar thoughts. Okay, so I’m writing about retirement because it’s a strange new adventure and I’m charting waters that I’ve never swam in before. Yes, I have many friends now who are retired, but they can’t give me the nitty gritty of it. They say things like, “I don’t know how I ever had time to get anything done when I was working,” or, “I just float from one thing to the next, depending on what comes up that day.” All good, but I’m digging deeper into the particulars of my experience and while I’m at it, I’m hoping that I can share it with you so you might think, “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m going through.” Perhaps you and I can meet for coffee some day and compare notes. Anyway, read on if you think there’s something of value here for you.

Here was my Sunday. Went to Unity church with a friend – no talk of Jesus or religion except for one excerpt from the Bible that was relevant – my kind of place. They talked about love and Earth day. I can live with that. 

Came home. Exercised. Ate food. Afterwards, I planned none of the following: I sang for hours to songs on Spotify and YouTube. Made some recordings. Practiced for karaoke some day. Most of it sounded good, but sometimes I sounded like a wounded cat. Re-recorded, attempting to get my voice to sound melodious. Gave up, tried other songs that fit me better. 

I had been going through my Dance playlist and adding new songs to it. Decided to attempt dancing a little – if you recall, I’ve been barely walking for months. I had seen a Bob Fosse play on Broadway years ago called Dancin’ and in one of the numbers, 2 people appeared to have their feet glued to the floor, but they did this wonderful dance (eventually, they turned off the lights and the audience could only see the neon portion of their outfits moving about. Way cool.) So, I decided I would dance without moving my feet too much. When I got tired, I sat down and danced from a chair. Dance is one of my passions, and not being able to dance has been a painful reminder of my immobility. A few months ago, I sent out an invitation to everyone I know – not to save the date, because I didn’t know when that date would be, but to know that when I am healed, I am having a dance party. So, while I was dancing with my feet effectively glued to the ground, I started to cry with deep, long gulps. I AM going to dance again!!

 Finally, I worked on singing again. I found a few lessons on YouTube teaching how to harmonize, then found some songs that I wanted to practice harmonizing with. I sat on the floor in the bathroom so as not to disturb my roommate who has to get up in the morning to go to that thing I used to go to called work, while I belted out Ave Maria, not because I’m religious, but because sometimes I pretend I’m an opera singer. Eventually, I got distracted and scrolled Facebook.  

Since it clearly had become a music day and nothing else, I proceeded to play my guitar and piano, perpetually working on learning new chords, but rarely getting anywhere. Finally, it was time for a bath to soothe my aching muscles and sink into bliss. It was a rough day. LoL

Why did I tell you every detail of my blissful day? Because, I had absolutely no agenda, and nowhere to go. Sometimes, I get antsy when the day is so open like this. Sometimes, I go down my list to figure out what I want to make sure to do every day: read my books, do my writing, practice my instruments, exercise, meditate. Everything else is gravy. I feel guilty when I don’t get everything in, or at least some of it, because I feel like I’m not making any progress, not sticking to my own imposed schedule, not working on any goals. 

Hahahahaha! Sunday was a day of realization. I have begun to drop the notion that I have to get anything at all done. I’m dropping the idea that I have things I must work on or I won’t – what? Get them done? Get any better at them? Reach my goals? WHO CARES!!!??? Not me, anymore. Okay, perhaps that is a bit of a fib. I am working on putting a comedy routine together and I asked my friend to give me a deadline so I’ll actually do it. The thing is, unless I have an appointment to do something, none of this matters. On Sunday, I was free to explore, to do what felt right in the moment, to spend as much time as I wanted doing what I wanted to do, and not worrying about the rest. I know, I know, every self-help guru and every therapist tells you not to worry. That it’s a pointless waste of time. But we do it anyway. I think it’s pretty normal. But I am learning Not to worry. It’s not an easy task. The thing is that I’m not practicing ‘not worrying’. It’s just that as I get more comfortable with this new lifestyle of whatever comes up – I’m worrying less. I think part of it is that as a person who has lived a life, experience tells me that almost everything turns out fine in the end. Turns out that it’s not just an intellectual conclusion, but it has become internalized and part of my intuition. And this is intersecting with my releasing of expectations, the release of time constraints, and the relinquishing of having to do stuff as opposed to my new paradigm of … whatever. It’s all good.

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