The Boredom in Retirement

old age 2.jpg

About 5 am you can hear John shoveling his driveway. He has been waiting for the first decent snowfall, this is his favorite time of the year. He is a two-time veteran -army and navy- and if he could have done it, he would have enlisted a third time but he was too old to do so.

Now he is in his 70’s and he spends most of his days sitting in the basement, watching old movies in his TV room. He has followed orders all his life, now there are no orders, life is up to him and he is lost. The house and yard are well-taken care off, so is the yard next door that he mows and weeds for free.

Most neighbors don’t like him and to be honest, I am not particularly fond of him either. He hung out in my workroom too often and for too long until I put a stop to it. I look at him and see something that I want to avoid in my future. Loneliness, boredom, and perhaps the feeling of not being useful anymore.

He is not alone, living in an older subdivision has shown me a side of retirement I never thought of.

My next door neighbors are a vivid example how not to live in old age. She leaves 3-4 times a day, goes shopping for the two of them and picks up lunch on her way back. In the meantime, he sits at home taking care of house and yard. She talks about her grandchildren and children all the time and while I am good at pretending to listen, I often find myself wondering if their life has ended already and they just don’t know it? When do you stop talking about your own life exactly and where does that leave me?

Her husband pulls our trashcan in every Monday, beats me to the punch each and every time. My husband comes home later, so he is out of the race, it’s just me and the neighbor and I tried to be faster, tried to pay back the favor but never succeeded. Finally, I gave up and let him spread his generosity.

Today in the morning I looked outside and our driveway was already shoveled. I send him a text, thanking him for his kindness. That’s all I can do. I know he is bored, I know he wants a job or perhaps a part-time job, but society is not very understanding and so it is hard to find something suitable. “Just for a few hours a day,” he explains to me and I nod.

Perhaps he should start a blog and write about the good old times when he felt valuable to society and share his unlived dreams, but possibly that would be the same as sitting in front of the TV like old John.

There is so much more. I could write about the widower, who doesn’t get up before 1 pm and sits in his man cave until way past midnight every day. His daily excitement is also a trip to the grocery store. There he greets all the employees and customers he knows before he goes back home to an empty house.

Great Britain elected a Minister for Loneliness and I can’t help but wonder if we shouldn’t follow their example.

I feel I need to rethink my own retirement plans. I never thought that time spent in front of a screen on a daily base could be an issue, times have changed and now it is. The illusion of being connected to a world behind a screen, perhaps that’s even better than a Minister for Loneliness?

Getting older is not an option, but the way we live old age is our choice I suppose. For heaven sake when does old age actually begin and how close am I?

My blogging hour is up, much to think about!

Image result for older couples skinny dipping

Definitely, a choice I have my eye on.

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11 thoughts on “The Boredom in Retirement

  1. You’ve described some situations I find sad, because in comparison, my husband and I couldn’t be any busier! We’ve loved retirement. I don’t know how to think about what other people do, or why they’d find themselves in front of televisions all day, but I tend to think we live out our retirements much the way we did while employed. If all we had was a career, then taking that away would be dreadful. I do think we need to plan for our retirement and aging. It doesn’t just happen. I only wish we’d retired a few years earlier and not waited. I guess that’s a good endorsement? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have mixed feelings about retirement. I would like to keep my shop open, perhaps part time, for as long as I can, because I love what I do.

      I have a long list of things I want to do and my dream would be an RV for roadtrips -near and far. I cannot see myself sitting infront of a TV and I feel so sorry for my neighbors. I know I can’t change them, but I wish I could.

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  2. Volunteer. There are so many opportunities to give of oneself, to feel productive in doing so, and to be connected to people. I stopped working for 8 years and did nothing but volunteer. I visited patients in hospitals, volunteered for a reading program in an elementary school, was a craft facilitator in a group home for adults with developmental disabilities. There is an organization in my town where retired people volunteer to make small repairs in homes of elderly people. The are retired electricians, plumbers, wood workers. There is plenty one can do!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My neighbor would be the perfect handyman volunteer, I will mention it to him but deep down I know that his wife won’t like it. Perhaps you can’t change people in that age and they will just continue to waste the rest of their life.

      I can’t believe you volunteered for 8 years. You are a Saint.

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  3. What else can they/we do? Western civilization instructs us to join something larger than ourselves from the time we are toddlers. Society teaches us “selfish” is a bad word. “Think of someone other than yourself” is the mantra. So after years of programming is it any wonder that people don’t know what to do with themselves. Still, I admire that you’ve attempted to help your neighbor consider himself.. But you do know that would require him to “feel”. 😳

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A very sobering post for a Monday morning. I confess I’m somewhat baffled by those who claim to be bored &/or lonely in retirement. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to do.

    I understand infirmity and poverty are great limiters but so is a general lack of imagination. Or a lifetime of never having embraced the joy of a book and the sense of adventure it both provides and stimulates.

    I feel sad for these people. If they are anything like my neighbour, not only are they bored and lonely, they are also resistant to any idea that would help to change their situation … and that is the saddest thing of all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many Americans live for their job and they work 40-60 hrs a week. When they are off they relax, spend time with their family, drink and watch TV, and so it’s all they are used to.

      I don’t think you turn 67 and Voilà over night you develop hobbies and interests.

      It’s scary to watch.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s even scarier to live! That’s why I refer to my current (second) retirement as a successful one. I was lucky enough to have learned what I did not want in retirement. It was also something I really could not do i.e. live for or through other people, like my kids. My second stroke of good luck was to have found myself located among interesting people in a uniquely historic while trying to stay current place where I am now able to pursue many different options. I think that now my problem is limiting myself and my efforts to possibly fewer directions where I might actually be able to produce some things of value, to myself and/or better still to others. This plethora of options must be what is missing from the lives of your retired neighbors, perhaps because they might feel these pursuits to be selfish, as I sometimes still do.

        Liked by 1 person

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