In an excerpt from his book "A Baby Boomer's Guide to Their Second Sixties," Ryan Amacher writes about his thoughts on the big don'ts of retirement and the lesson he learned from "Golden Girl" Bea Arthur.
A thought on retirement: Don’t. From what I have observed, retirement is deadly. As you age, your golf game does not improve. You look like an old fool out there.
The best statement I have ever heard about not retiring was made by Bea Arthur, of "Maude" fame and many other stage roles. I saw an interview with her on ”CBS Sunday Morning.” It was a 30-year retrospective that played on Labor Day 2009. Ms. Arthur, who had died earlier in 2009, was asked on the clip why she didn’t retire. Her reply was that it was easy to do what you love to do. She followed up by saying that people who care about their jobs don’t like to retire. “It’s glorious,” she said. The lesson I took from this is not to retire, but quit your job now if you don’t like it and find something you can do happily until you’re 95, not dead.
If you don’t take this advice and you do retire, limit yourself to one month each of solitaire or hearts on your computer. Refrain from sending email jokes to your friends. Okay -- one joke a week. Once you are retired you have no need to send emails to distribution lists. If you have the idea to send an email to a distribution list, think about it for a week. This also holds for jokes -- perhaps more importantly for jokes. In fact, remove the “reply to all” function from your computer. Remember you are retired, hardly anyone cares about what you think, and if it is about a meeting, you’re not invited.
If you wear bifocals or for that matter only "cheaters," be careful when you walk down steps carrying a case of wine. It is wise to take them off. When you trip it could be a big loss. In fact, you might start looking around for a one-floor house.
Cultivate the few family and friends you have left. My father and my father-in-law were completely different personalities from completely different backgrounds. They had only one piece of advice in common. That one piece of wisdom was how few friends we would have as we aged. “You would be lucky if you can count them on one hand.” Some would of course die, but mostly they come and go. Often it happens when a new woman enters the scene. It also is the case that we all move about so much these days.
Perhaps, most importantly, avoid high-maintenance people. You will always be surprised by their behavior, and they never reciprocate. Life is a reciprocating business. Friends are there for you, even when you don’t need them. More importantly, they are there when you do need them. As we all have learned, I hope, is that from such little things as keeping in touch to such big things as being there when needed, friends are precious. I am not advocating that you be there to insure that you have friends, but rather that you be there because they are your friend. If you do you will have friends. I am also saying that you should be in touch. How else would you know if you should be there?
Be careful what you wear. T-shirts are okay, but T-shirts that say things like, “Where in the Hell is Ideal Corners?", on them are not okay. Get some T-shirts from your alma mater, if you went to a decent place. Otherwise buy some from a good place and people will assume you went there. Try a place with a good football team. If not, buy some plain T-shirts with nice material, the kind with thicker fabric. Never wear T-shirts you can read a newspaper through. You might also think twice about wearing your cell phone on a cord around your neck so you don't lose it.
Be interesting. Learn something new. If you find yourself up to your a** in sh*t, say "Sh*t." Move about. If you don’t know how to play gin rummy, learn how. Your golf game will decline and you can always go to the golf club and play gin rummy in the locker room with the other old farts. My old friend Charlie started to play golf with his wife and he reported that saying, "Nice shot, honey" 125 times in 9 holes, isn’t all that bad.
Thornton Wilder wrote in [the play] "Our Town," "You’re 21, you make a decision and the next minute you’re 64." The first of us boomers have six years to catch up on what we wanted to do and didn't before we were 70. Get after it.
If you like martinis, try some Broker's Gin. It is really good and also is cheaper than the other call brands. It’s distilled the traditional way, using a copper pot still. And it comes from London. If you don't like martinis, learn to like them. If you once liked to smoke, buy a pack. They go well with a martini and at your age they are not going to kill you and, most importantly, if you have one first thing in the morning it will keep you "regular." If you need more than that in retirement, I can’t help you.
Keep doing whatever it is you do even though “it gets harder as you get older -- and farther away as you get closer.” Stephen Stills must like puns.
"I have over ten thousand names in my [genealogical] file and am hooked on not just the facts, but the story-writing. I reconnect with cousins I haven't seen since I was a teen. I meet new relatives online and in person, even fifth cousins, who I never know I had... There's nothing like knowing that you had an ancestor in the Battle of Saratoga..." -<em>Jean Benning</em>, 75
Cultural Immersion Travel
"I traveled with the Hershey (Pennsylvania) Community Chorus to sing in Wales. When you visit the valleys in the east it's like going back in time; people aren't attached to their computers and mobile phones. I started renting an apartment in the city of Pontypool for six months a year. Now I have a lot of friends there and even volunteer at a shop where the proceeds support cancer research." -<em>Judith Emmers</em>, 69
"I'm lucky enough to live across the street from a gym. I go over there two mornings a week and work out for an hour at 5:30 a.m., and then see a trainer for another hour. I also do water aerobics three times a week. I do it so I can keep doing the things I love, not because I love the exercise. I didn't start exercising until I was sixty-six." -<em>Corinne Lyon</em>, 74
"I spent my seventieth birthday in a hot tub six thousand feet up Mount Hood. I didn't want my kids to think they had to do something special." -<em>Carolyn Rundorff</em>, 71
"A group of us organized a trip along the Natchez Trace from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi. We researched stops and places to stay, and every day one of us was the designated driver to haul the gear. You want to know the people fairly well before you set out on something like this. We covered 444 miles in less than a week." -<em>Bill Dunn</em>, 65
"We started the Canetti Literary Society in December 1981. [Elias] Canetti...had just won the Nobel Prize for Literature. I have a Masters in Literature and had never heard of Canetti. So I thought it was a good time to read his work, and the best way would be to have a book club with other women who might be interested in reading good literature. We are still in existence." -<em>Anne Richtel</em>, 95
Volunteering As A Docent
"I'm training to be a museum docent at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. The training to be certified is rigorous -- six hours a week for six weeks, then shadowing a certified docent, then delivering your spiel to two different staff members in two different areas of the museum." -<em>Therese Wilkin</em>, 63
"I began morris dancing in 1984 and long sword dancing in 1989. These forms are English and date back several centuries. I get exercise; a very close bond with a group of people of both genders and a variety of ages; the challenge of learning and performing a wide variety of rather complex and demanding dances; and the satisfaction of helping keep ancient traditions alive and growing." -<em>Robert Orser</em>, 79
"It is lovely to come to this physical and spiritual, scientific and creative body of knowledge at this point in my life. When I talk over the back fence with my gardening neighbors or give someone a bouquet of flowers from my garden, I know just how my grandmother and mother felt when they did the same thing." -<em>Ally McKay</em>, 68
Singing In A Choir
"We had one piece that we were doing at a festival, which we had only a short time to learn, and we rehearsed on the bus to Abilene. We were the last to perform, and our director was very nervous. We rehearsed one last time before going on, and everyone in the choir got every note right. It's a pleasure you can't understand if you haven't done it. It really keeps you going." -<em>Mary Roberson</em>, 70
"The best part of community theater is that no one cares about your politics, your religion, or your money. Everyone's on the same bus. I've gotten so much out of it. My closest friends come from there. The ones I depend on, the ones who have my back, come from the theater." -<em>Ellen Kazin</em>, 71
"When I retired I took several Road Scholar watercolor trips and subsequently read everything I could find on Winslow Homer... My wife suggested that I had uncovered so much material on Homer that I should write a book... The rewards are beyond my fondest dreams...I believe that has brought me as close to the Master as one can get." -<em>Robert Demarest</em>, 83
Learning A Foreign Language
"I started [studying Italian] when my husband and I were planning our first of four Road Scholar trips to Italy. I have found other people -- over two hundred of them, to be exact -- in an organization called Il Circolo Italiano on the Philadelphia Main Line, who come together to speak and promote the Italian Language and culture... They are the warmest people you would every want to meet." -<em>Jean Benning</em>, 75
Volunteering With Habitat For Humanity
"I wanted to do something in retirement that would give back to the community and to people in need, and this seemed to be an excellent candidate... The major reward is seeing families that are living in great need...partner with us in building first other people's and then their own homes, and then move into what in most cases is the first home they have ever owned." -<em>Robert Bond</em>, 75