My apologies folks-house hunting has gotten in the way of my timely blogging. I'm way behind on posting comments as well as responses. I'm trying to find a way to allow comments in real time, but there seems to be no way to do that and have reasonable moderation as well-unless I am missing something!
In an effort to deviate from the procedural mysteries that dominate my reading life, I've finally joined a book club or two that meet monthly. The choices are varied- at one group discussion this Thursday we'll each be discussing the books books we have read through the summer. I am also reading the book The Power Years: A User's Guide to the Rest of Your Life, a book about reinventing retirement. So far I am very impressed with this book, where the primary premise is that people spend all their planning time thinking about money in retirement. Rather, we should think about what we want to do with those years, and then look at the money. While I agree, that is a blog for another day.
While I have only begun this book, a story in the first chapter grabbed my attention: While on a family vacation at the Gaylord resort in Orlando, a man noticed that the hotel had two huge and well appointed swimming pools in different location. One was supposedly a quiet zone and was designated as "Over 18 Only", while the other pool was for all ages. The commenter in question noticed that almost all of the "mature adults" were in the latter pool-even when they were there without children or grandchildren. Everyone chose the livelier pool, noisy teens and crying toddlers aside. It seems to me this say a great deal about life in general, and the retirement lifestyle we choose.
If we choose the quieter pool, we are most likely surrounded by folks similar to ourselves, in age especially. This is true whether we are sitting by the pool with our mimosas or making high energy lap swims around the pool. Our environment is controlled by choice. If we choose the second pool, life will be noisier, perhaps even uncomfortable on occasion if the toddler four lawn chairs down is overdue for a nap, or the teenagers on the far side of the pool have decided to do cannonballs. On the other hand, we are fully engaged in every sense of the word-even if we do nothing but sit on our lawn chairs.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing the quiet pool-on occasion. To continue the metaphor, for years in Dallas I swam early in the morning even though I am not a morning person just so I could be there before the families (mainly because the kids wanted to chatter, and I am not up to talking while doing jumping jacks in the pool). I would, however, not make that choice on a day by day basis.
I am not talking about energy level here. One can be a high energy person and still stuck running in place. I am talking about engagement and involvement-even when it is outside our comfort level or age group. Do you have occasions when you are involved with people of other ages (outside of your children and grandchildren?). Are you willing to step outside of our current "box" and explore new areas and environments? Are you uncomfortable when you are with people not of your "set" or "crowd". Do you prefer to stay at your contentment and comfort level-all the time?
One one level, I am a low energy person who needs to engage myself more. On the other hand, I have an environment that is very much like the second pool-mostly by accident. I live in a mixed area with a wide variety of ethnicity and incomes (typical urban village life). My primary social/volunteer outlets are by nature multi age groups (my widows support group ranges from thirty to eighty five, and I regularly work with college students on Habitat projects). There are occasions when I have had to force myself from the quiet pool. My daytime water aerobics group that was all senior women has given way to exercising in the multi age pool. Even though it was more costly, I have chosen to take classes at the university level rather than lifelong learning programs because I love being around college students where the age is more varied.
There are still more things I hope to do to challenge myself and I will fully admit that in the beginning they are uncomfortable. Cooking in the church kitchen in Dallas in order to feed one hundred homeless people is not the same as welcoming thirty homeless women into your church basement to sleep for example-and sleeping next to said women. Forcing my self to learn the math I never learned at twenty is a challenge as well ( I went through four years of high school and three years of college with a single math course-business math). Certainly taking a train trip through the Rockies to San Fransisco alone will be challenging-and not because I mind traveling alone. Can you say fear of heights?
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate plain old contentment and comfort as much as the next retiree-some of the time. The rest of the time I would prefer to be as engaged and challenged as I was prior to retirement-if not more so.
How about you? Where does your comfort level fall?