I needed to stretch my legs and took a walk the other day in Los Jilgueros. I am turning into a real sloth. Huffing and wheezing down the trail, I happened upon an old poker acquaintance and his wife briskly meandering down the trail.
I asked what was new and the fellow, a dentist, R, mentioned that he had recently retired. His wife, also a dentist, was retiring too but would stick at the practice for a while and help with the transition. I asked him what he planned to do with the rest of his life and he said that he had no idea. They are about my age, maybe a year older, I am not really sure. Honestly looked a little lost. Have fun, what is that?
They are going to take a cruise to Europe for eleven days. Ten stops, one of those deals. I winced when he recited a few of my least favorite ports of disembarkation but tried not to be a buzz kill. No hobbies to speak of. They have worked for forty years and now need to figure out how to play. Not as easy as you might think. I on the other hand, am the Yoda of play, a jedi f*ckoff master. But not really sure I can teach the skill set.
I went to the pharmacy the other day and Don the pharmacist is also retiring. My age. He used to be at Fallbrook Pharmacy, recently at CVS. I asked Don what he was planning on doing? He had no clue either. I think he dabbled in photography and I brought it up but it didn't register. Onward and upward.
Anyhow I mentioned to R and his wife that the classic conundrum is that when you are finally able to afford to buy the hot Porsche, you look a little dumb driving it. Our ever more chi chi town is full of old fossils driving nice iron. God bless them, but it will be a momentary thrill.
I mentioned that I too had a retirement plan too and it is called "drop dead."
He then said something like well hey, Robert, you have had fun the whole time along the way. It is our turn. And you know what, he was right, at least the first part, I have had a hell of a lot of fun on the way. I played a finesse and filled my inside straight. Over and over again. And somehow managed to survive, thanks to the help of wonderful family, friends and clients. Luck and providence too? Okay, suit yourself.
But I am entering that strange time when a lot of people my age are retiring and there is no way I will ever be joining them, short of a winning lottery ticket or a really, really good painting walking in the door.
I haven't had a boss since the mid 1980's. I answer to myself and my wife. I have been able to visualize my own roadmap and it has mostly kept me alive and it has been very lucrative on occasion. I have had ample time to write, photograph and ponder. I take great trips on a regular basis. I have friends in practically every city in the country. I have become an expert in my field and have written an extensive amount of college curriculum. I have contributed to the scholarship of various decorative arts, having written a multitude of magazine articles in my younger days.
The first on my house will soon be paid off. I beat cancer, about five times. Ditto significant heart issues. My wife still speaks to me once in a while and keeps the loathing to a minimum or at least out of earshot. Have a lot of friends, many who go back over four decades. My cats like me. Or they say they do, anyway. I am regularly read, by people like you, who I assume think that I have something worthwhile to say.
I worked in a factory once in Israel. During the Gulf War. Made it about two weeks. The monotony and repetition drove me crazy. Wigged out and went to work in the banana fields. Now that will get you in shape.
Worked for a military style organization, the power company, for six months in my early twenties. Committed a grave sin and resigned. Don't take orders real well.
There is a saying in the antique business; dealers have two things in common, serious problems with authority and we are essentially unemployable. Here, here.
A buddy of mine who has been really successful in his life is really going through it right now, about ten years older than me, a salesman now, with a great product and a CEO that is self destructing. I feel bad for him, reinvention is tough enough past sixty, seventy is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.
You set your money on the red or black and you spin the wheel. But it is awful hard to get off the old horse that brung you. Ride, Sally ride. Times you have to pray, tighten your belt and wait for a tailwind. They always come around, right?
Retire? And do what? Where's the hustle, not to mention fun in that? When there are still dragons to slay?