December 30, 2014

The modified George Burns retirement plan

"Retirement at 65 is ridiculous. When I was 65, I still had pimples.”

George Burns (1896-1996)

     Occasionally, I see people and they ask, “What are you doing, now that you are retired?”
     Since I was about 50, God has been having his way with my hair.  I guess I do look like a retiree.  Retiring is not for me—anytime soon.  But, I would like to rearrange my schedule, just a tad.
     Since we’re upon a New Year, maybe a resolution along that line would be a good idea.  If I could, what would I do? The first thing I would do is to keep working.  Oh, I might slack off the hours on my day job. 
     If I ever cut back to 40 hours, that’d be about as close to retirement as I’d want.
  Here’s how I would arrange my work week.  I’d put in my 40 hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  And then I’d have a four-day vacation every week and plenty of time to play.
     Play what, golf?  If a grandchild asked me to play golf with him or her, I’d make time.  But I’d have to send out a search party for my dusty clubs. Working on the farm is play for me.  I enjoy plowing, the smell of dirt and poking seeds into the ground.  Gathering and sharing the harvest is fun, but I know fulltime farmers work hard.  If I farmed for a living, I’d probably play more golf to relax.
     I like animals.  Piddling around the barnyard with mules, horses, donkeys, goats, llamas and chickens is pleasurable.  One day, I’ll bring cows back to the farm, but I’ll need to wait for a market adjustment.  I do miss moos from the  pasture.
     On those Fridays or Mondays off, you might find me in woodworking or at the sawmill getting unusual lumber cut.  I have no trouble imagining things to build.  Fortunately, I have skilled friends who can show me how.  Ever since I banged together my first birdhouse in Cub Scouts, I’ve liked swinging a hammer. But these days, I’m appreciating a nail gun.
     Another favorite pastime is rambling in the outdoors, especially with grandchildren.  Fishing rods and guns are optional.  I just enjoy being there, absorbing God’s handiwork.  But I do love hearing a child squeal, when a fat bluegill is tugging on the line.

     Books and music are my shock absorbers to smooth out bumpy spots.  I dream of having a 10,000-book library and being able to say, “I’ve read them all, at least once.”  My harmonica and piano beg for more attention, and there’s a guitar leaning in the corner.  I aim to give that a try, too.
     While I’m daydreaming, how about this: clocking out the week of Thanksgiving and not returning until the day after New Year’s?  Again, I believe using my brain at work helps keep me young and connected.  But the thought of having that much time for family and friends—around the holidays—would be magnificent.
     I’d want to sneak in a trip or two to Costa Rica, but I wouldn’t want that to interfere with July’s plan.  I think about taking grandchildren—one or two at the time—to explore Georgia.  We’d see out-of-the-way places and look for one-of-a-kind people.  Then, we’d write about them.  I want our grandchildren to appreciate that there’s a story in every life.
     Retirement might be right for you, but not for me, yet.   As a freshly-minted 66, I’m with George Burns.  When the comedian was in his 90s, a club wanted to book him on a 10-year contract.  George declined the offer.  Thumping ashes from his cigar, he said, “I’m not sure they’ll be here in 10 years.”
     George worked until the end.  And if that got him to 100, I think I’ll try it, too, with the right balance of work and play. 
     Happy New Year!