In this entry I am trying to articulate a few unexpected issues that came up as a result of my retirement. The first issue is a surprise financial issue, and the second one is more of a medical issue.
First of all, I didn’t experience any serious financial setbacks after my retirement. (At least none so far.) Actually my financial status is fine. The limited planning and projections that I had done turned out to be very reasonable. We even did some traveling that was very enjoyable, especially to the Grand Canyon.
The surprise came when I assessed my own reaction to retirement. I discovered I liked earning money. It was a scorecard. The act of earning felt good. I was so conditioned to earn money throughout my life that it felt uncomfortable stopping. As a result, I took on one consulting job with what could best be called an edu-tech startup. The work was tedious and the royalty was small and irregular. I have a feeling the startup will not succeed. I can’t say I enjoyed the work, but the feeling that I could still earn money drove me to participate. I also contracted for one small teaching engagement. Again, earning the money felt good, even though the amount of work needed to gear myself up to teach a class was huge. It was the scorekeeping that drove me. I liked earning money. Also, it gave me some confidence that I could still do some work if my economic circumstances changed. I was very surprised how important that was to me.
My second surprise concerned medical issues. As you age, you will be confronted with medical issues. I made a decision not to discuss specific medical issues in this blog, but they are hard to get around. Also, at this age you are confronted with deaths of your contemporaries. It happens. You have to face it. When you aren’t employed, you have more time to dwell on those issues. When you have to work, you have less time to think about the more unpleasant aspects of growing older. If you aren’t working you have more time to let your mind visit dark places. I have been to some of them. As a result, I have been asking myself a question, “Is the stress of full-time work damaging to your health,” or alternatively, “Does not working cause stress and damage your health?” If anyone has an answer to that, please let me know. In any case, the amount of stress over medical issues, both serious and not serious, has surprised me. I always thought my parents often looked for things to worry about. I understand them a lot more now.
Well, those are my two big retirement surprises. I have no doubt that other retirees have far more serious stressors in their lives. I have a lot to be thankful for, and I have to learn to dwell on those things and deal with the stressors that inevitably enter your life.
Now back to the novel. With a lot of luck and hard work, it may provide me with the financial scorekeeping thrills I discovered I need. In any case, keeping my mind busy will prevent me from visiting those dark places that obsessing with medical issues both real and imagined can lead.