retirement

At 53 people keep talking to me about retirement. It seems to be the age when we start to think of such matters. I received a statement this summer from my Pension Fund telling me when I could retire and what the benefits would be, depending on when I completely retired. I see I could retire now, but at a reduced rate of income. Only if I wait till June 2025 can I retire with a full pension.

Our culture makes a big deal about Freedom 55, plans that provide funds to allow us to retire at 55 with a standard of living that is consistent with our values and needs. When our financial advisor asked us what we wanted to do in retirement I was caught short. I really don’t know. Kim would like to do some traveling, we would also like to see our daughter annually, if she lives in another part of Canada or the world. Aside from that my goals are to volunteer and perhaps work part-time, preach if asked, facilitate drop-ins for people who live on the margins.

If I look into that future I don’t see myself like those Freedom 55 ads, I am not walking on a beach in my bare feet somewhere in Florida. Absolutely nothing of that image appeals to me! What I would enjoy are walks with Kim to a café, something with chocolate as a snack, breathing in the fresh air, joking back and forth with the baristas, reading the New York Times or the Globe and Mail (Lucy tells me newspapers won’t exist then) and chatting with the other patrons. Neither Kim nor I want to travel to any warm destinations.

This really is a spiritual matter. What we do with the latter part of our lives is every bit as important as what we do in the beginning and middle parts. Yet there is little attention to this. Given that we live in a youth culture, where we do everything in our power to fight the aging process and the awareness of mortality that goes with it, the only image we have of “happy aging” is walking on a beach or playing golf in Florida. The end result is that we have a lot of people sitting at home watching reruns of The Price of Right, playing solitaire and doing the crossword puzzles. I don’t see Sudoku in my future.

Large numbers of people are joining community choirs. If I could sing that would sound terrific. I recommend SCANS (Seniors’ College Association of Nova Scotia) and will take courses myself when I retire. I do not feel God will be finished with me when I am 61. I don’t want to be one of these cranky people who tells church folks how things were done years ago. If I don’t care about that why should they? I do hope to share some of the insights I have learned along the way, things people have taught me. I love to hear people do this and hope to do likewise when I am retired. I want to be a good Elder for the church, for society. But I will have plenty to learn and hope to meet mentors along the way.

On my bucket list are only a few items. Writing a play for community theatre, building a stone wall around my property and drinking coffee in a downtown European urban café, these are it. Here’s hoping.