Have my friends always talked about retirement and I didn’t notice or is it that we are all old enough now that it comes up as often as our hot flashes, knee replacements and acid reflux?
Either way, I have noticed it is a common topic, especially at dinner parties. I listen, as only a therapist does, with interest and curiosity.
Where seems to be the first topic of retiremental discernment* discussed. Ideas of places to retire fill the room. Somewhere sunny. Somewhere inexpensive. Portugal. Mexico with other x-pats. Near their children. Or grandchildren.
What is the next topic. Usually because I can’t stand it anymore and I have to know. “What will you do?” I ask a little too intensely. I can tell because the speaker startles, like when you start to nod off and wake yourself up as your chin heads for your chest.
I ask because am hoping someone will have a great idea. One that I can consider if I stop doing what I am doing.
“Not Work,” they say with a lilt that sounds more like a question than a statement.
“But WHAT will you do?” I press on. Another trait of a therapist. We want to understand.
“Oh, I don’t know. Read more. Travel,” their voice trailing off. I am not sure if they are enraptured by a vision of themselves relaxing on a white sand beach, margarita in hand, the book Retirement for Dummies, dogeared and highlighted, sitting beside them or they are noticing their plan seems a bit dull.
As I listen intently to my dinner-party-friends musings, trying to find the place in me that wants to read and travel more, I come up empty. I just can’t seem to find my desire to stop doing what I am doing.
Maybe, I wonder, I am not old enough to be thinking about retirement. But my friend, sitting across the table who is younger than me, is actively looking on-line for retirement friendly places. Or, perhaps I am not confident I can afford to retire, so I unconsciously protect myself from disappointment by not entertaining the possibility. “Expect nothing and you shall not be disappointed,” echoes in my head. Or could my high tolerance to discomfort be masking my secret wish to throw in the towel?
Yesterday I was talking with my dear friend Kathleen. We raised our kids together. Not to mention each other. She is thinking about her retirement. I listened. Interested. Brainstorming possibilities. Places? What she would do? When?
In a quiet moment she asked, “What about you? Do you think about retirement?”
Without thinking, I heard myself say, “I feel like I am just hitting my stride. I’m creating the career and life I’ve always wanted and I want to do more…so leaving it for another kind of life doesn’t fit for me right now.”
Wow! I didn’t know that!
I love when I happen upon my clarity. When I listen to myself and find my answers. I didn’t know how satisfied I was with myself and my life.
When I was in my 40’s, an astrologer told me I was a late bloomer. That it wouldn’t be until my 50’s that I would move into my life’s purpose in a full and felt way.
I think she was right. I am so glad to be here.