Yesterday I drove up to Napa through the gorgeous, undulating countryside that is such a harmonious setting for so many winery vineyards and family-run farms. Surely these are some of the most peaceful and beautiful landscapes to be found anywhere on earth. The weather was bright and sunny during some of the one-hour trip, yet so foggy at other times, the hills truly resembled misty Japanese paintings.
I was heading north from Marin County to my friend's home, to attend her retirement party, and was really looking forward to meeting her colleagues from several of the companies she had worked for during her illustrious 34-year career, her son and his family, and other friends. She is so delighted to be retired! It was thrilling to see everyone in the room smile and raise their glasses of wine in a toast to my friend, and wish her well in this new chapter of her life.
I thought about how lucky my friend is to have what might be several decades of retirement to look forward to. My late husband died at 59, when he was just on the cusp of thinking about retirement. How he would have loved the time to paint and cook and read and travel, without the hassle of working in an office any longer.
Another good friend of mine also retired recently, after a 25-year career at a university; she says her days are just as jam-packed now as they were when her schedule was filled with corporate meetings and the pressures of deadlines. The big difference, of course, is that she's only doing what she really wants to do.
She's planned a six-week trip to Europe, by herself, for starters.
Some people find that they have retired too early, and are so bored within a few months, they find a new job so they can be around people -- and still feel useful. Others believe that they will never be able to retire, because they haven't saved any money for retirement.
Some (like me) do not even understand the concept of retiring; I plan to continue doing editing and writing projects always. I love working with authors, and I love creating and researching various projects on a huge variety of topics. My curiosity about people and about the world is as sharp now as when I was in my 20s.
Have you thought about retiring, even if that time might be way off in the distance? How do you envision spending your days? Would you make a huge change in your lifestyle, perhaps move to a different state or country? Think about it.