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.