I haven’t written too much about retirement, so I felt I was due for a bit of reflection on what has transpired so far. Actually nothing monumental. I did complete a first draft of a book some time ago and have had a great deal of difficulty getting into the revisions. There are many reasons for this, some good and some bad. I have been busy with a lot of things that I never thought I would be busy with. Now the surprises:
Never boring–I can’t say that I have ever been bored with retirement. I have never relocated from where I worked, so I am surrounded by a network of old friends, former co-workers, church, and family. They have provided a lot of support and much diversion, both good and bad, but clearly more of the good kind. The lack of boredom was a big surprise to me. Frankly I expected more, but I am happy to say that expectation did not materialize.
New worlds–Writing, especially trying to write a fictional thriller, has been a very broadening experience. The publishing, writing, and thriller worlds have been all new to me. There are many institutions and individuals out there in the world of publishing that have been very generous with their time and advice. There are also a number of sharks and predators out there, but I believe I have successfully avoided them. Taking on an entirely new endeavor, such as writing a thriller, has been humbling, intimidating, and exhilarating all at the same time. In addition to attempting to move a novel forward, I have started a blog and reviewed books and movies. Each of these subcultures has its own cast of characters that I have enjoyed meeting, and its own set of customs a newcomer needs to understand and respect.
Technology–Each of the new worlds I have been exploring has technologies that are somewhat new to me. Bumping into these technologies, and exploring them has been an adventure. I have had some successes and some failures with them. I was surprised how much technology I avoided in my prior work. I have been a very primitive social media user, but I am starting to find these things useful and even, at times, a lot of fun. I still have no Facebook account, but have started exploring Twitter and Pinterest. I am still just at the edge of these things, but the biggest surprise to me has been how much I enjoy monkeying around with them, even though I am at the very early stages.
Second Guessing–I haven’t done a lot of second-guessing about my decision to retire from university teaching, but I have to admit to a small amount. My second guessing does not involve the issues I read about in my brief foray into the retirement planning world. I have no regrets about financial issues, or boredom, or lack of professional identity. My second guessing involves the gnawing desire to “prove that I can still do it”, that I could still plan out a university-level course and deliver it. I think it is a strange, macho sort of itch that I may need to scratch. I need to prove to myself that I can still make a living if I need to. The fact that this feeling will not go away has been a surprise to me. I should have anticipated it, but I didn’t.
Well, those are my retirement surprises after over three years out from the job. Overall, I have been a very fortunate man and have generally experienced positive surprises.