A Good Age

A Good Age:

An occasional blog

Sunporch furniture

The year before I retired I thought deeply about when and how this new state should come about. It used to be quite straightforward – your 60th birthday arrived, you packed up your desk and kind words were said, sending you off to your garden, or the grandchildren. The stress of actually making a decision about it was removed by the compulsory deadline.

These days each person has to call 'time' on themselves by making an individual decision. And I did find the decision quite stressful. I feared feeling unuseful, or being bored or lonely. I read widely and did an online course about aging, talked to friends and kept notes. I thought if I was finding it hard, maybe others did too and I considered writing about the process. Eventually I made the decision to close my psychology practice and retire soon after my 65th birthday. My birthday present to myself was a day bed for the sun room, where I imagined reading a lot.

Two things happened. I felt as though a weight had lifted from my shoulders, almost a physical sensation that let me stand a little taller and broader. And for three months I slept unprecedented amounts. I would fall asleep on the couch, the new daybed, in front of TV, indulge in early nights and sleepings-in. I was a little astonished but it was impossible to resist. Between naps I tidied the garden, read lots as planned and met friends for coffee. The urge to write about retirement fell away and I just got on with doing it.

Apart from not going to work, I kept to the routine I already had. That involved regular walks and swims, a gentle run on a Friday, piano lessons and practice and taking part in a writing group and a book group. I also had some responsibilities in my Quaker meeting and roles on a couple of committees. I kept in touch with friends, mostly by meeting in town for coffee, and with my sisters and children by phone. As life stretched to fill the time available I marvelled that I had managed to fit work in at all.

Recently, while tackling some bulging filing cabinets, I discovered the notes I had made in my 65th year. They seemed fresh and interesting. I wondered whether to share them. So here I am, pressing the 'refresh' button on the idea. Watch this space.