My parents, along with most of my friend’s parents, are starting to reach that point where they have just recently retired or have it coming up around the corner. It’s always exciting to talk with people in their 60’s who have spent their entire adult life working, raising a family, working more, and in their spare time…working. Or spending every moment of spare time making sure your son is gripping a baseball correctly for the perfect curve, or putting your daughter at ease as she attempts her first back handspring. I’m describing my parents, who have been married for 40 years and have traveled and done amazing things, but for the past few years it’s all talk about, “What we will do when we retire?”
Some people of the baby boomer generation didn’t take time to really have hobbies, or put a lot of time into their passions, like our (I’m 31) generation does. “Following their dream” was laughable; putting food on the table was not. Now that retirement has arrived, these older beautiful souls are now picking up hobbies and passions a close friend or relative might have never known existed.
My mother (60) and three of her friends just randomly, all bought ukuleles. None of them have much music experience, had no idea how to play, but it was something that just sounded “fun.” Now they get together each week and practice, laugh, attempt to play and just have a cute time.
My father is now a serious cigar conessieur, and also an avid runner. Nice mix right? He’s always been active, but now there is a real love behind it, that “I choose to do this” feeling opposed to “I have to exercise because blood pressure, etc.” He maps out trails across cross country fields and loves it, then at the end of the night could spend an hour explaining the type of cigar he’s smoking and why he chose this particular one. It’s wonderful.
Other retirees I’ve spoken to now don’t just take care of their yard and garden, they relish in it. It’s a work of art. They love it. It’s something they’ve always wanted to give more time to, but either had to pay someone else to do it or just allow the garden to not be its best because the plate was just too full.
Speaking of full plates, cooking. One gentleman I spoke with told me he now considers himself a “chef,” and looking back on things wishes he would have followed his true passion, cooking, when he got out of the navy years ago. He couldn’t cook like that, that being the time and love he puts into preparing a meal, because he worked 60 hours a week and the wife would always have food on the table. The passion was buried for years, and finally came back out at retirement.
Recently a 70-year-old woman showed me the painting and art she’d been doing since she retired. It was beautiful. Not good in like a, “Oh…nice.” But truly good. God given talent good. But she had always been too scared to take it up professionally as she was (broken record) “just too busy, and being an artist wasn’t a real job.” Ironically, she now realizes how yes, being an artist is absolutely a real job. Again, regret.
I can’t shake the feeling that retirement is an excuse. An excuse to finally do the things you love. But I think that excuse is quite sad. Each day, or week, or every spare moment we have, we should do the things we love, the things a generation before us waited to do until retirement. Everyone, no matter the age, should be doing a little “retirement” work each day. I understand life is hard. Responsibilities. Family. Money. Time. LIFE. But tell yourself, and cc Life that you aren’t going to let it control your loves and your passions. There’s no specific age or time when it’s okay to start doing the things you love, the answer to that is just always.
So pick up an instrument, write in a journal, create your personal garden just for you, learn to speak French, master a recipe, make a collage, create your own personal running route, make yourself smile, just for you. The more happiness you give to yourself, and even in small amounts the time you give yourself, will no doubt make the others around you happy, and allow an older version of you to have passions you aren’t just starting to pursue, but that you’ve mastered.