A few years ago, I had written a couple of Blog Posts on how to lead a well -balanced life, particularly a well-balanced retired life. I had introduced a 2x3 matrix, reproduced below, indicating various activities that need to be performed, even each day, in order to live a contended retirement.
The activities are self-explanatory so I don’t need to dwell on them further. I have used this model to lead a comfortable and fulfilling retired life for over a decade. Now, as I am in the second decade, and look further in the future, I am wondering how long can I sustain this way of life, particularly in the days when deteriorating health may prevent some of the activities.
The first one to be affected would be the Fitness activities. We spend so much time outdoors so curtailing them would not only affect health but also require other activities to fill the time that opens up. Hopefully, these would not stop, given the advancing medical care and our determination to continue. Maybe, there will be fewer hiking and biking activities but walking can continue. My father did until well in his nineties.
There is almost nothing that can prevent some of the fun activities to continue, however, travelling is something that may lose luster. For people like us who have already travelled a lot, the marginal benefit of additional places to go to may not outweigh the effort involved in doing so. Some of my friends of our age have already “retired” from extensive travelling, preferring to derive happiness from local exploration.
The left brain and right brain activities should dominate the next phase of retired life. There are plenty of resources available for learning and experimenting. My father kept on writing his autobiography well into his nineties and I do not think I should do less, if I live that long. Of course, one can be afflicted with a disease such as Alzheimer’s that will prevent proper functioning of brain. Even otherwise, the capacity of brain to absorb new information and learn new things will go down. I will have to deal with it, I suppose. However, as long as I remain curious, that will be enough motivation to continue.
Finally, the top two boxes. As far as spending more time with family and friends, of course. However, the problem is that your children and grandchildren have their own lives. We will be included in their activities but will be prepared for spending a lot of time alone, even if it is at one of their parties. A better bet is friends who are of the same age. They have time and desire to participate in similar activities. At some point, it may not be a bad idea to live in a community of other retired people, however much we have resisted the idea until now. As an option, there are virtual “Villages” springing up and our town has one. They connect members into a group where they can socialize with each other, thus allow getting old living in their places.
The giving back activities can also continue but health may prevent driving to places that are not close by. Yes, financial contributions can continue, even accelerate, but that won’t occupy much time as volunteering.
Many people find religious activities as one avenue to get fulfilment and pass time during the later phase of retirement. Besides occupying available time, it serves many purposes. You can get a better perspective of life through reading and absorbing scriptures. There is camaraderie of friends and family. Also, you learn to accept that it is perfectly OK to spend time doing nothing.
For me, or someone like me, becoming religious would be a big change. After a lifetime of atheism, and believing only what can be explained scientifically, finding solace in religion would require a major change in thinking.
There are some who occupy an in between place and become spiritual. While I am keen to read and absorb wisdom of the ancient folks, I do not believe in spirit and will have the same resistance as becoming religious. Besides, listening to the modern-day gurus and babas is not my cup of tea. My loss, I am sure.
It is not a bad idea to think of the future before it arrives. That way we can make rational decisions when they need to be made.
However, there are so many unknowns that it will be difficult to chart a precise course.