Opinion

Gord Turner: The joys of retirement

<p>Sunrise over Strawberry Hill in Kamloops. (Black Press file)</p> -

Sunrise over Strawberry Hill in Kamloops. (Black Press file)

— image credit:

A friend a bit younger than me who is still working lamented that he was afraid to retire.

He told me he wasn't sure what he would do. Apparently he never golfed or fished, nor did he keep a garden. In addition, he rarely read books and wasn't interested in exploring the Internet.

I told him he was the perfect candidate for retirement. When you retire, you don't have to do anything. It's perfectly fine to sit around all day and do a lot of resting because you've spent 35 years rushing off to work and having no time for the hammock or easy chair.

What happens is that we get programmed or brainwashed when we're young. Our parents and our school teachers want us to always be doing, to push forward steadily, and to be responsible citizens. So after a lifetime of continually being active and always having a job, it's difficult to say, "It's OK to do nothing." That's not what we were taught and that's not how we behaved for 35 years.

Even though I worked hard for over 40 years, I slid into retirement mode quite easily. I said, "OK, I've done my bit. Now I'm only going to do what I want — and I need to shut off society's switch that keeps us performing or feeling the need to do." And I haven't regretted my decision to drop club memberships and not get involved in community events.

Retirement has given me the mornings I never had time for when I worked. I can sit on my deck watching the sun rise or the clouds sift over. I sip at my coffee without a care in the world. Now I pay attention to the birds flitting by or landing on the railing — chickadees, sparrows, finches, and nuthatches. I've always wanted to do that.

Retirement has given me sleep-ins and read-ins. If I don't feel like getting up, I don't, sometimes lying there until mid-morning. If I'm reading a first-rate novel such as John Hart's Down River, I might not arise until 11 or so. There's no one to tell me I can't, and usually no schedule pushing me out the front door.

Retirement has given me a more complete sense of my neighbours. At 6:30 a.m., my eastern neighbour takes off on his motorbike, his choice of vehicle to get to work. If I stroll into the front yard to turn on the hose on my watering day, I note my northern neighbours sitting on their deck enjoying the sunshine. And I think, yes neighbours, I'd better get onto my deck to enjoy the early sunshine, too.

Retirement has given us the opportunity to be spontaneous. We can do things at the spur of the moment — visit friends we haven't seen in awhile. We were heading to the prairies for a visit with my wife's elderly mother, but partway there we chose to head south of Jaffray into extreme backcountry. We had no idea before this that we would deviate from our main trip.

As it was, we found Sandy Shores Resort and Newgate Ranch tucked up against the American border. We located my wife's cousin and his wife, who own and operate both the Resort and the Ranch, and so we had a marvelous visit and a mind-boggling tour of their immense enterprise.

Retirement has given us the time to plan astonishing and intriguing travels to distant corners of this planet, and better yet, time to take that holiday when the rest of the world is at work.

As I think back on the last seven years of freedom, I realize "I've been everywhere, man." Or almost.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...