Earlier this week, my newly retired school principal burst into the school for a quick visit, full of piss and vinegar.  He had been here and there, taken a course on whosiwhatsits and spent hours working on some thingamajig.  His social calendar was full.  He looked years younger than he did in June.  His words-to-the-wise were “Retire as soon as you can manage it.  It is the best thing I’ve ever done!”.

Then in stark contrast, I had a phone call with my dad today.  “Life is pretty dull around here, as usual” was his thought-provoking comment.  Imagine being retired, aged 75, yet merely existing through another day.  I cannot even fathom it.

Which one of these two paths will I take?  Will I even have a choice?

I believe that choice is the difference between these two attitudes.  My principal anticipated his retirement and had an exit plan all laid out.  He knew that on Sept 7, the first official day of retirement, he would be far away in the Maritimes, photographing the Autumn changes and attending a family reunion.  He looked forward to it.  He shared his plans with us as they drew nearer.  And now he is soaking in it, wondering how he ever managed to fit work into his day.

Meanwhile, my dad had no choice in his retirement date.  His health issues forced him to retire ten years earlier than expected.  Retirement came quickly, unexpectedly and he entered it unwillingly.  I don’t think he has ever embraced it or looked at these years of freedom as a gift from a life well-lived.

I will retire on January 3, 2026.  (Hurrah for the teachers’ pension plan!)  I expect that my retirement years will be some of the best in my life.  I already know that initially I will fill my days with outdoor adventures and activities.  I will travel and see places that I couldn’t possibly afford to visit when I was a starving Europe-bound student.  Then, as perhaps age and health begin to limit my activities, I will get involved in the local recreation or seniors centre.  I will learn to play bridge, basket-weave, embroider and sing in the seniors choir (because they have to allow everyone in).  I will bake for the bake sale and volunteer at the auxiliary.  I will be involved.

How about you?  Have you given it any thought?