Retirement: Time Is On My Side; I’ve Got Nothing But Time

seeking purpose

What do I do now?

I have a theory. Correct me if I’m wrong…

People in the early days of retirement go through the same stages of grief that people in long term non-employment do. The first hurdle in this marathon is time. It is all about the challenge of managing all the endless days and restless nights.

Why am I saying this? Very simple answer: Other People.

From the time we come into this world Other People manage our time. Mom is sent home loaded down with a schedule of feedings, changings and inoculations. Parents anxiously watch for signs of achieving growth benchmarks. Baby should pull up at 6 months; baby should roll over at this time; baby should attempt self feeding at blah-blah-blah…

Then, we are herded into the education system and the time-driven goading by Other People continues. Every hour of every day is regimented. We pass through the grids, er, grades and forms like a product on an assembly line in a system where we are stamped slow or advanced according to a time schedule we have no power to influence.

School days turn into work days and in place of school, The Company manages a big chunk of our day.  We arrange our non-work activities so that they do not conflict with this great big “Other Person” who commands  most of our awake time. We trade away our limited time and freedom for years.

Noticeably, depression becomes like the universal solvent for the long-term non-employed and the newly retired.  Just as in the case of the Former Employee, the Other People The Retired One used to rely on to plan days and to take up gross emotional space has suddenly evaporated. Many new retirees respond to this sudden withdrawal of social contact and instant organization by becoming depressed. It is a loss so profound the only response to it is to run up the flag at half-mast– a state of mourning.

This is what happens: Suddenly, BAM!

You name it, disaster strikes: graduation comes; the layoff comes; retirement comes and there is abruptly, unceremoniously (except for that sad retirement party) silence.  Life feels like free falling because there is no order to days anymore. The Retired One goes cold turkey into self-management. YOYO (You’re On Your Own)  and get this– expected to magically know how to do it and be expert at it too!