As I write this I’m in Denver, sitting in my sister’s living room watching football. This follows a day and a half or driving through and exploring west Texas. I’ll spend a few days visiting relatives and getting to see some real fall color. Later on in the week I’ll drive to Santa Fe and spend the afternoon and evening exploring the Plaza and environs. The following day I’ll drive south on the Turquoise trail to Old route 66, and then to Amarillo and then a different route to through Texas to Dallas.
I’m enjoying this trip so far, and imagine that I will enjoy the rest of my travels as well.
In theory, I could have taken this trip during my working years. Truth is, I probably would have enjoyed it then equally as well. But I would have had to ask for leave, or been away from customers for a week or so. I would have at to schedule my time, at least in as much as I was sure to get back to work at my appointed time. When I returned I probably would have mentally had to reset my mind and attitude back to work.
In my current (retired) life, it’s a whole different ball game. I actually decided to take this trip three days before I left home. It might have been less except that I have a four legged child. There was no employer to ask, serious scheduling to do or any of the other things that would have been required to take time off from a regular job. At the same time, should I take an extra day to return, it will impact little. If I decide I need another full day in Santa Fe, I’ll simply extend my hotel a day and move onward.
More than anything else, its things like this that to me, define retirement (chosen or not). Retirement doesn’t mean that I sit on the couch watching TV and eating bonbons (although that also has value on occasion!). Retirement doesn’t necessarily mean I am less busy overall. I still quilt, maintain a home, attempt to manage two small businesses, and many other things. On some occasions, as Syd reminds me, I attempt to do more than one person should.
The difference is simply control. I get to say yes and no. I get to make choices, day to day, on what to do. I have the choice to simply throw things into the back of my car and take off until I am ready to come home. I have the choice as to whether I want to make an Indianapolis Colts Quilt for a client, read a novel, can barbecue sauce for gifts, or replace my blinds in the living room. Even with work or my business, I get to choose the amount, the time, and the effort to expend.
To me, this gift is the best part of retirement. In my case, this kind of freedom is worth some sacrifices, be they financial or otherwise. It’s what retirement is all about.