Retirement reflections dance behind my eyelid. I’m reminded ours is a nation of work as I slide back into my hammock hung between two ancient pines. The river roars past me making its way south to the Rio Grande. Great rivers form the earth’s circulatory system revealing Mother Earths health and well-being. Rivers also provide us answers to our questions. All too often rivers prompt us to ask better questions. What are you looking to do in retirement to ensure you’re happiness?
Dissatisfied Americans have been coming west to California for years. Gold, surfboards, palm trees, and Hollywood. Now I’ve partially retraced my ancestor’s steps settling back into the Rocky Mountains where I can ride the white frozen H20 deep into delirium.
I’ve happily traded my surfboard for my fly fishing rod. SUR (F) ISHING, the similarities are uncanny. Dawn patrol, check out the water, wind, crowd conditions. Select the best equipment for the situation at hand. Enter the water with a holler forever searching for the perfect wave/fish, catching, riding, releasing, while kicking/stepping out, just one more we say while humming row row row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily merrily merrily merrily, life is but a dream.
Hypnotized by the beauty in nature that surrounds us we paddle/hike further to get a stretch of water to call our own. Returning home wet we smile telling stories of great catches and rides, wipeouts, the ones that got away. Rinsing off our gear we dream of our next session and urgently seek the food our bodies hold dear.
Turning on my side I ask my question directly to the river. What is the meaning of retirement today? Eagles, hawks soar overhead. Many would argue it is meaningless since most of us will work until the age of 67-70 anyway. I disagree wholeheartedly. I assert performing creative work for compensation or not all throughout one’s retirement years is as good as it gets irrespective of one’s financial situation good or bad. It is the key to one’s happiness!
“The American Psychological Association recently published an analysis of multiple studies. Researchers from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand analyzed questionnaires from 420,000 people in 63 countries. “Having the freedom to change careers or pursue our passions makes us happier than does a hefty bank account.” “So while wealth can provide you with more choices; it is really having the ability to realize your dreams that leads to greater happiness,” says study coauthor Ronald Fischer, Ph.D.”
We all have something that speaks to us. I’m retired and as busy as I want to be. I’m excited to see what kind of writer/speaker, High School basketball official/coach, and photographer I will become in older age. I am neither bored, nor unprepared nor needy the root of unhappiness. I’m happy because I executed my plan, and I’m growing creatively every day. I get to play.
Staring intently into crystal clear, braided pocket water, I smile, recalling how yesterday I was getting lost in what I love doing. Fisherman like surfers and writers are both patient and restless. We awaken excitedly to the prospect of creatively filling one of our 6,000 blank pages. Modern explorers out on the water we search endlessly for something beyond ourselves, something; perfect. Perfect waves, perfect fishing holes, we are dreamers. Our endless search is fueled by the faith it is all worthwhile no matter what.