Tuesday, February 7, 2017

This is What Retirement Looks Like

"Tell me what democracy looks like!" "THIS is what democracy looks like!"
The chants were defeaning. The crowds stoked. And I was there. Circling the White House to defeat a pipeline. In the midst of a million stubborn women. And at the Supreme Court, helping Bernie and friends challenge the travel ban.

Yes, it's true. I was there, and I will go again. I have the will, the reasons, and--just as important--I have the time to act on issues I care about.

Do you want to know what retirement looks like? THIS is what retirement looks like.
My Facebook readers have gotten previews of my post-career shenanigans, from biking to the cherry blossoms on a weekday to serving as first mate on a boat to traveling three months in France.

Keep plugging away at those annual reports! Keep stowing away those paychecks! There IS reward in return for your daily investment in the world of toiling for others. If not always lots of money, at least lots of time.

I am on a plane to New Zealand. For a month. That might sound expensive, and yes, the airfare cost one-third of my pension this month. A rental car will use up another third. But this is why I scrimped and saved for 45 years.

To all of my colleagues who complained about The Daily Grind: I get it. I was in the Metro and the lunchroom and the conference room. But here's the thing: work is part of life, and it's worth it!

My choice of a civil service career, instead of pursuing my hope and dream of being a newspaper reporter, gave me an edge in the financial department. The cost was enormous: drudge work for changing Administrations. Issues opposed to my heart and soul. Promoting nuclear weapons, for heaven's sake!

I look back now, though, and what I see is that I worked hard at every task I undertook. I worked hard, sacrificed, learned, and got better. Now, I am enjoying the reward.

The cause and effect works like this:

At age 12, I babysat every Saturday and Sunday to buy a guitar. At age 17, I touted stereos at Radio Shack to buy a car and get out of the terrifying Detroit buses. By age 19, I was racing back and forth between university classes and three jobs, to pay for transportation, books, and sorority. (Tuition was covered by scholarships; yet even those took effort to apply.)

Leaving aside short stints as a typist, researcher, newsletter editor, and more sales, I worked the next 36 years in jobs that tested my values and sent me home in tears--hundreds of times. (Just ask my spouses, and Pope.)  While I struggled to mold the nation to my values, others pursued themes that were anathema to me.  In recent years, for example, while I promoted climate action, a colleague lobbied for teaching Creationism. Potential for upheaval--and conflict--occurred every four years.

That was what my years in the labor force looked like. And THIS--yes, this--is what retirement looks like.

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