Being retired must be different for everyone. Some plan for it, and some do not. I did not. I knew only that I could not keep doing what I had been doing for years: being at the beck and call of an employer. Not known for having foresight, I blithely stopped working at a job in which I burned out, projecting that I could get by on what I deemed I had due me, a social security check. How many others did this, only to find out it is not enough? In my life, it is just barely enough. It helps to be living in a part of the world that is far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, its thousands of people, and traffic.
In the early morning, waking to the sound of birds singing in the forest, the wind rustling the leaves in the trees outside my window, and the view from my bed of the early morning sky, I can tell by the color of the dawn what the weather will be. A rose tint in the light indicates it may rain sometime later, and if it is a blue-gray sky, it will be a clear day. In a matter of minutes, my mind releases the dream I cannot remember and I wonder how I will spend my time this new day. I stay in bed a little while, stretching. My dog is ready to go outside, so I get up. We are both older, alike in that our joints are getting more stiff. We slowly move down the stairs.
No day is the same. When I go to bed at night, I am aware of what I ought to get done the next day. If today is any indication, I may or may not get done that which I considered last night. I do not go outside today, except to say hello to my neighbor’s dogs. Instead, I go online and stay on this computer nearly the entire day. I look at emails, trashing most of them. I listen to a webinar I meant to join last night, but forgot. It was about how to bring in recurring revenue using the net. I read an email about living abroad, and then click on a link that takes me to a voice reading aloud a very long message. It is about how everything in this world is due to collapse, that one should have as much cash on hand as possible, as the banks and businesses will soon come to a standstill. I fall asleep, waking up to the voice offering further explanation of the future crises and how to prepare, at a cost, of course.
I log onto Face Book and learn that a young couple I know is dealing with a life-threatening situation, the husband in critical condition in hospital. Already friends put up a donation site to help them in their time of need. I am too aware of how I do not have any dollars to send. Had I not retired, I could probably help out. As it is, I stay home so as not to spend money on gasoline. I feel for everyone who is struggling, especially the younger ones at the start of their lives. I think of my own children, now grown, doing the best they can to keep going. I call my daughter; she does not answer.
Some might say I waste time being online. It is one thing that reminds me there are other people in the world, all coping with being here. With this connection, I try to understand how many are actually here. It is truly unfathomable. We are in the billions, babies being born, old and young dying. How many millions are merely surviving? How quickly can one learn something new in order to better survive? In my case, I realize I need to learn something new as soon as possible if I intend to keep living here. If I do not, I can at least fall back on what I do know.
I know that down the road is a garden I planted in early spring. I already harvest kale and zucchini, mustard greens and snow peas. Soon I will harvest tomatoes. I know there is always something to do to make the garden better. If I can keep my mind from having fear-based thoughts, I can go to bed at night and sleep peacefully, awaken to a new day, and be at peace. I can spend time thinking about the rest of the world, and I can also let it go. The days pass by. Today I do not have a bank account full of dollars. I have, if I allow myself to, serenity, solitude, and an open mind. Perhaps this is enough; this is presently my way of being retired.