Golden years: noun, plural; the years of retirement, normally after age 65.
Perhaps I am the most gifted person on the planet, leading the most charmed life. Perhaps I’m an utter failure at everything. Of course the truth lies somewhere in between, but some days that needle leans closer toward utter failure. As we grow we hear proverbs . . . some so old that they’ve become adages:
- For better or for worse . . . .
- Where there's smoke, there's fire.
- A stitch in time saves nine.
- The early bird catches the worm.
- Slow and steady wins the race.
Adages come from many sources, but what they all have in common is that they’re now accepted as truths in life. Today we’ll address not merely the adage, but a very silly idiom, golden years, and the beat-to-death idiom, bucket list.
There are so many adages about retirement and the golden years (early retirement in my case) that they cannot be covered here. Suffice to say, the other day I Googled How to stay sane in retirement. Here’s what U.S. New & World Report suggested. They must have a staff of idiots . . . probably right out of university . . . idiots who never considered the cost of renting an RV.
- Plant a garden–flowers or vegetables. Done it. Done it almost every year of my life. Still doing it. Next.
- Learn a new language. Does twelve count? And I continue to improve my Spanish. In fact, with me and new languages it’s either enjoyably all-consuming or I’m near burn-out.
- Pick up a guitar or other musical instrument. Do you think that they literally meant pick up? I picked up some bongos. That might not be what they intended. I can’t find my ukulele. We don’t have room for a piano. I’ve got a harmonica; so let’s leave this one alone.
- Write a book–not necessarily to sell, but to share your thoughts. Done.
- Document your family history with pictures and stories. Done, about 15 years ago.
- Create photographic works of art–consider using modern software and services like Shutterfly. First done in 2007. Actually, first done in high school, with Rusty. Still doing it. Next.
- Dust off your old fishing pole. Okay, I confess, this is a great idea. Let’s revisit fishing.
- Go back to school and take classes you want to. Okay, first of all, to you editors at USNWR, don't end a sentence in a preposition. Your pre-retirement list should include "improve your grammar!" Your editors might want to consider a class in eighth grade grammar. Anyway, I now take Spanish and fused glass classes. That counts. What else ya got?
- Donate your time. Whoa, now! Two years in the third poorest country in the world doesn’t count?! Do you really want to go there, USNWR? Years with an HIV foundation working with below-poverty-level clients? Anyone want to try that? And I'm currently working with a parrot conservatory and with a spay/neuter program; and I’m always on the lookout for more. I’d say that I’m good with the donate-time/karma-thing.
- Fine tune your landscaping to show off your abode. Every damned day of my life. Next.
- Try your hand at selling the fruits of your hobbies at a local art festival. Done, ongoing, and done. I make beautiful hand-crafted soap and soy candles. I grow organic sprouts. I make rain chains using sea shells. Blah, blah, blah. Next.
- Test your artistic ability by painting or sculpting. Well, I'll give 'em this: test is the correct word. This I do most every day of my new life in Costa Rica. I failed the artistic ability test, but I sill love to create. Next.
- Mentor a youngster. Seriously? Me? Okay, always shake a Martini to a waltz step. There. Anyway, I’ve actually done this; and Katie-bug, Nikki, Alan, ALD, and Martin turned out very well.
- Travel to a location where you can test your newly-learned language. Let’s revise that to move to a location where you can test your newly-learned language . . . and practice your French and German, too. Next.
- Learn to cook–as extravagantly as you wish. Done. Classes with professionals on three continents. Believe me when I say, I can cook, as will be proven on Friday.
- Try coin collecting. Done. Stamps, too. My daddy started me on these hobbies at a very young age. We sold or gave away all of it when we moved to Costa Rica. Next.
- Learn bridge or other social games. Already done -- Bridge, Spades, Hearts, Dominoes (every Wednesday), Poker, naked Twister. What else ya got?
- Perform one physical activity each week. Hey, I shave my legs. That counts. I also scuba dive and play golf, but that’s a whole ‘nuther post.
- Travel near or far. (See Number 21). Next.
- Read the great books. Hey, two years in West Africa and I can assure you that the only one I missed was War And Peace, which I will have finished before Chanukah.
- Drive an RV across the country or wherever you choose. Again . . . whoa now. For how long? I don’t have an RV. Does taking a 4x4 across rivers count? This is silly. We’ve traveled by some mode (mekoro, steamer ship, train) to over 35 countries. So this might be the time to bring up the can-we-never-say-those-words-again-? bucket list.
- See the aurora borealis ✔
- Sleep outdoors under the stars of the Kalahari ✔. . . so African safari goes without saying, right?
- Bungee jump at Victoria Falls ✔ after canoeing the Zambezi . . . so a third safari goes without saying, right?
- Cage dive with the great white sharks at Seal Island ✔
- Pet (foolishly) an adult male bull shark in open water ✔
- Zip-line in the rain forest ✔
- Swim with penguins near the Cape of Good Hope ✔
- Rent an apartment for Carnevale in Venice in full 18th century costumes (which I made by hand) ✔
- Greet the new millennium during a Jubilee year in Rome ✔
- Spend Valentine’s Day in Paris ✔
- Ski the Pyrenees ✔
- Take your dog to France for tea at Angelina ✔
So let’s just say that if it’s on someone’s bucket list, I’ve probably already done it, loved it, appreciated every second, and wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. In fact, after seeing the Northern lights 250 miles above the Arctic Circle, I thought to myself: I can die now. Don’t let my list imply that I am jaded. I know how lucky I am. Rusty and I merely decided not to wait until the golden years to do things the that appealed to us.
So when do these golden years begin? Is it at 50? If so, I’m not feeling the glow from the gold. If they begin at 65, I’ve got quite a wait. So if golden years are the time to enjoy life, I’ve definitely got a problem. I’ve been enjoying life as long as I can remember. There should be no starting point to enjoy life . . . no Okay, I’m here, let-the-fun-begin point.
I was raised by parents who told me to never whine that I’m bored. That simply indicated that I had no imagination. Then there’s the fact that I am the queen of multi-tasking. I can accomplish in two hours what would take the average bear eight (which is why I never understood the need to remain at a job after 3:00). So boredom isn't my problem. It's finding enough to do. More, more, more new things to do with my newly-found free time.
What you should be hearing loudly in this post is that I don’t have enough fulfilling things to do. And let's remember that Rusty still has a job . . . so he's not available for play time and requires food and beverages several times daily. Plus, I'm beginning to believe that he dislikes my constant singing in French and German. Now don't get me wrong, honey, feeding you is always rewarding . . . sincerely said no wife since 1965.
We usually awaken by 5:30 here, so by noon on most days I’ve gardened, painted something (driftwood, gourds, wooden animals that Rusty carves/cuts for me), groomed a terrier, baked a cake/cupcakes/pie/torte, cleaned the house, washed/dried/folded/put-away two loads of laundry, attended Spanish and/or fused-glass class, and am then looking for a way to spend my afternoon that doesn’t involve napping with Jill in the air-conditioned bedroom . . . something just a little more fulfilling than painting another wooden frog.
Fishing. The answer actually might be fishing. I can bait a hook with a live fish. I’m not the kind of girly-girl afraid to touch a fish. True, I use a glove to avoid being finned, but I can touch a fish. Now I do get into some difficulty with worms. Rusty says that he’s never known another human who can thread a worm onto a hook using a rock and never touch the worm. It’s an art, I confess. Anyway, worms aren't used here, so perhaps it's time to call our fishing friend, Anthony. Or I could stand on the shore and cast my bait into the surf. I know how to cast. There are definitely some possibilities in the world of fishing . . . nevermind that I'm not going to clean a fish, though I do know how.
So as to that utterly boring list of USNWR which completely lacks imagination, I say burn it. And as to the golden years idiom . . . not golden yet. Now about some of those adages. Here in Costa Rica most should be rewritten:
- For better or for worse . . . but not for lunch.
- Where there's smoke . . . you're probably too close to the ashtray on my terrace (see 13) or watching me burn trash.
- A stitch in time means that I'm repairing Rusty's shorts, by hand, again.
- The early bird sees the reason why the monkeys are screaming at 4:45, thus eliminating the need for any alarm clock.
- Slow and steady means that ants will find and bite your bare feet. Guaranteed. Lo que hay.