Why Your Bucket List is a Good Servant but a Bad Master

Then, the program director spent most of the two-hour session explaining how well-qualified she is, and she made us sing Another Op’nin, Another Show in a very high key. So, what was I to do? Of course, I abandoned the whole project. I told them it was about the final show date, but really it was about that woman. Who needs to sit for twelve weeks next to the Canadian equivalent of a Trump supporter while singing too high for comfort? I mean, really?

Be Happy Enough to Stick with Whatever-it-is

By now you are wondering what on earth would make me happy enough not to quit. Well, I’ll tell you. I am happy walking in my own neighborhood. Several times a week I walk the streets for an hour or so, and I feel good. I listen to music on my iPhone or I just process my thoughts and I walk. That is my simple, recurring, pleasure.

I also write. I have a blog that has become a place where I create an essay every few days. And, it is good. No false modesty here. I get positive feedback that keeps me going, and it provides me with the creative outlet I need. It will never go viral, but it keeps me in touch with family and friends and it has linked me with new friends in the blogging world. I love it. I absolutely love it.

I read. A lot. I read novels, non-fiction, news, blogs, and social media. I read hard copy, online, and drafts of future documents in both formats. I totally relish the time I now have to just read for pleasure. It isn’t work, it isn’t student’s work, and it isn’t work for professional advancement. It is just reading for as long as I like. This is what I dreamed of when I was working. I give thanks daily to the people who invented writing for giving me these moments, hours, and days of uninterrupted reading.

Then, of course, there is gardening. It is a joy I learned from my father and a skill I continue to acquire. Gardening in Edmonton is a challenge so I have killed a lot of things, but regardless of that digging in the dirt is always satisfying. It gets me out in the daylight and sometimes I am lucky enough to say “Hi” to a passing neighbor.

Every year I travel a little, and this year I went to both England and New York. Some years I am happy to make only my journey south for the winter, but I usually manage to fit in a trip somewhere else as well. Since retirement I have been able to visit friends in Chicago, Seattle, Charleston, Edinburgh, and Monterey. Who needs golf when we have a world of lovely cities and friends to see?

And, I have my family. I moved to a city where both my sons live so that I see them and their families regularly. I love being near them and their energy, and they check in with me often enough to make me feel loved. It’s just the right amount of family contact, and it’s heavenly.

I still make toques for homeless people, I sometimes refinish furniture, I once signed up for skydiving, and I am still trying to figure out that darned camera. But really, folks. It is ok to quit sometimes. Making the most of life as a retiree is not about grit, and it’s not about doing everything on your list; it’s about fulfillment. If you want to find yours, do only the activities that add to your contentment and say “Meh” to the rest.

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  1. Thanks for the voice of experience! I love the life you have created.
    This summer, while describing my first ventures into retirement to a friend, she said, “Oh, you’re going to do the gap year!”
    Since I tend to be a “joiner” and “doer”, my plan at this time is to make no commitments, take a job only if it makes me grin, and find out what my nonworking rhythm is.

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed the article, Lorna. The wonderful thing about retirement is that it doesn’t have to be only a gap year. It can be a gap decade…or two…or three!

  3. Great article about finding your own space and place. My wife has been retired for 3 years now and she has a very similar attitude to life in retirement and is extremely content apart form the fact that she wants to live by the coast. I retire next year and we plan to make that move to the coast and hopefully I will adjust as well as she has to the next phase in life. If the move does not work so what , we still have plenty of time to find the next move. Can guarantee one thing though , no bucket list and no golf.

    Go with the flow , keep trying things. No such thing as failure at our age – only learning what works/does not work for you.

  4. Thanks, Patrick. It sounds as though you and your wife have a very positive outlook. Moving can be an upheaval, but it’s always good if it takes you where you want to go! I hope you both enjoy a long and happy retirement.

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