Sunday, July 1, 2012

In Praise of Doing.......Absolutely Nothing

It's three in the afternoon as I write this. I'm sitting stretched out on my sectional (perfect for allowing me to sit up and stretch out my legs at the same time). The TV is on as I watch Spain and Italy play in the Euro Cup.There's a drink in my hand, and a dog at my side. After the game is over, I'll probably work on the book I started on my kindle.  Dinner will be casual, and I have some movies on my list to watch- we've had Kiss of the Spider Woman so long that Netflix wants to charge me for it.

I have not spent the whole day being horizontal-I did do some sewing. I'll probably spend some effort on dinner at some point. I'm obviously spending a little time online writing.  Most of my day however, has been spent doing inactive, non-constructive things with a little bit of puttering thrown in. I have absolutely no guilt. None.

Obviously, I don't spend every day in the mode I am today. it's a Sunday afternoon, and perhaps not a typical day. There are few days when my whole day is spent in lowest gear. However, I DO try and spend some of each day exactly as I am now-doing little to nothing. This may be reading, watching tv, puttering around the house, or even sitting on the patio and daydreaming. My reading and TV or movie watching is often what some would call mindless drivel-in other words purely for the entertainment value rather than learning.

As Americans, we are big on "being constructive" and on "doing".  Both those things are important, don't get me wrong. Having a plan, and filling our days with activity are important parts of retirement-and life. Retirement gurus advise a certain level of busyness, developing hobbies and interests, and including physical activity in our lives. All of those things are important.

Doing nothing is equally important. Sometimes we forget that.  When I was a kid, my summer was spent running and playing. I also spent alot of my kid summers and weekends NOT running and playing. This time was spent lazily-lying under the tree day dreaming, sitting on a lake throwing rocks, reading until my parents realized that I was still up and sent me to bed. This time was just as important to my health, devlopment and social life as all those times spent making crafts, playing tag, and climbing trees.  I think that time is still just as important to us today.

Please understand that I am not saying that retirement should be spent watching tv, eating bonbons and drinking margaritas (although all three have their place in life). I am saying that life should be a balance.

Lately many of the "in-person" folks I see (retirees and others), seem be incapable of not being "busy".  When it comes to the retired folks, it's almost as if they are afraid of being bored or turning into couch potatoes if they take some down time.  One friend "goes" from the time she gets up until after dinner. In all fairness I think this is an early retirement response, just as many folks decide early in retirement that life is to be spent in a chair. Knowing this person I believe she'll probably adjust.  Another non retired in person friend believes that she needs to do constructive things during her waking hours-and she is exhausted.

I have a moderately busy retirement, depending on the day. Some days are extremely busy, but most have a balance. As I mentioned earlier when talking about my "summer schedule" my days include everything from canning to sewing to road tripping to socializing-as well as maintainging my house. My non traveling days also almost always include a good hour to tour hours of "chilling out". This may be reading, watching a move, siting on the patio visiting or on very rare occasions taking a nap (I am not a daytime sleeper). On the days when I don't have this time, I find myself out of sorts.

We all have different activity level,s and interests, lifestyles. Some folks are very active in retirement, some less. Some folks perfer a scheduled retirement, and some play it by ear day to day. Both work, as long as we include all levels of activity in our days. Retirement, just lke life, needs to be a balance. Hopefully, we all find that balance.


  1. As of right now, I've read all the blog posts. I can either go outside and weed the buttercups, lie on the couch and read one of the magazines in my stack, or take a nap.

    Not sure yet which one it will be.

  2. LOL, well here in texas if you haven't weeded by now it's too late..that's my six or seven am chore.

  3. It took me two years to destress from my last full time job. I spent many hours being a couch potato. Slowly I am gaining a balance. It feels good. My blood pressure is normal. I only check our stocks once a week. I talk to family daily. The dogs are walked and plants get watered (before 7) Life is good. Still seeking a balance in friends vs volunteer partners. .
    Now back to my second book this weekend.

  4. I actually had a pretty laid back day too, particularly for me. I researched places to hike for our upcoming RV trip, finished one of my book club books (Then Again by Diane Keaton), did a little grocery shopping, and cooked a yummy basil/oregano/thyme/lemon pasta dish with parm cheese and pine nuts sprinkled on top for dinner.

    I'm now ensconced on the sofa getting ready to pop "The Artist" into our DVD.

  5. On Saturday the spin cycle broke on my washer so I spent Sunday afternoon doing laundry at my Mother-in-Law's house. That actually turned out nice - she made a plate of fried zucchini and we opened a bottle of wine while I/we finished three loads of laundry and talked about our favorite subject - my daughter and her only grandchild.

    I am a true believer in creating balance and purpose in our daily lives (especially in retirement) but I love having those little spontaneous moments too.

  6. When people ask me what I 'do' I tell them I get up each morning and enjoy the day. I take my little camera with me and take photos of my life and what I 'do' and then post & write about it.

    Can't get a retirement any easier than that.

    It's the early retirement crowd that just HAS TO DO SOMETHING ALL DAY LONG. I pity them.

  7. Cindi, I pity none of the early retirees and blogger sthat I know. We all make different decisions. I would not be comfortable just going out and taking pictures. I need to be"doing" much of the day-just not all the day.

  8. Balance be damned! I want a whole lot of days like yours when I retire!

  9. My pops, at 76, is still happily busy zooming all over the USA and Canada on his motorcycle. He enjoys being busy, as do I most days.

    I think the only time someone should be pitied is if they are unhappy, suffering or in pain. Otherwise, viva la difference!

  10. Janette, you are not wrong by any sense of the word. eventually a senior place may be right for me. The problem is just that I dont know where I want to settle yet, so I feel that I should spend some time renting first.

    Hopefully by then I will have enough good credit to at least have that as an option.


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