Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thoughts About Retirement

Ronni Bennett posed a series of questions about retirment at Time Goes By this morning, and it happens that retirement - whatever that means - has been almost constantly on my mind for the past few years.

Actually, I've been telling people for years that I'm a retired Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman because it's true and because it's preferable to admitting that I've spent the third quarter of this life shuffling papers for a medical management company. It's not like working for the IRS and it's paid the bills, but there is not much fulfillment from it. In the past four years I have made choices that have kept me from leaving this job and California, but almost certainly in 2009...

You'd have no reason to remember that back when Ronni was choosing between Portland, ME, and Portland, OR, I was trying to use logic to decide where I wanted to land when I retired (because I really have no roots anywhere). I drew a little circle around the area between Asheville, NC, and Great Smoky Mountain National Park, but it turns out that thousands of other retirees were drawing similar circles on their maps at about the same time, many of whom have already moved there. The idea of getting a Class C motorhome and living a more nomadic life has suffered a critical $4/gallon setback.

I've thought a lot about how I want to live the fourth quarter of this life. (It amuses me to refer to this time as the fourth quarter of my life although no male Babb has celebrated his 70th birthday since my great-great-grandfather.) When I leave here I'll have sufficient means to subsist which I recognize as a blessing; so my goal is to do work that is fulfilling... work that matters. I miss that from the second quarter. Toward that end, I've been volunteering with Red Cross Disaster Services for the past several months, and I have to say that is really working for me so far: I'm going out on local disaster calls (house and apartment fires so far), I can drive the ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle), and they're letting me train other volunteers in Disaster Services. That's like a fulfillment trifecta.

If I could find paying work that is at least as worthwhile as what I'm doing with the Red Cross, I'd sure consider it. My dream job would be to go back to school to become a Physician Assistant because I miss patient care a lot, but at this point I'd have to start from scratch. I'm up for that, but who gives student loans to guys in their 60s? Advocating for returning military wounded sings to me, but I'm not sure that working with the Veterans Administration bureaucracy does. We'll see.

Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. - Henry David Thoreau


Anonymous Ronni Bennett said...

I too have no real roots, AQ, if you don't count New York City which I miss enormously.

One of the most interesting items from the responses about retirement at my place is how many said to expect change from your original plans. The unexpected happens in terms of interest and of opportunity.

I'll be interested to hear how your decisions go...

5:30 PM  
Blogger Kay Dennison said...

I suyppose living here in NE Ohio for most of my life counts as roots but it's never really felt like home.

I love my current job but know my days are numbered here unless they get a grant to fund me. We are really helping people here and for me that's a good thing.

Both of the above tell me I need to decide what's next.

Our mutual friend is spending more and more time in Ireland where he's actually bought a wee cottage so that's one less friend I'll have here.

Keep me posted on what you're planning. Maybe we should start a commune for displaced Elderbloggers? LOL

10:02 AM  
Blogger joared said...

Gee, I kept getting a reject on my blog link for you, so finally took it down thinking you'd left the country. Well, lo and behold I found you by linking from another blog, so back up goes "Always Question" on my sidebar.

I sure know what you mean about never expecting to live in L.A. County, or Smogville, U.S.A., as I not so lovingly called it when I learned we were moving here over thirty years ago. Realized a few years ago I've lived here longer than I've ever lived anywhere else in my life. This is now definitely my home from which I would be reluctant to move -- though I might consider it in the future. Change has always been an option in my life.

I really like my profession to which I trained after I was in my 40's, but then I liked a lot of the work I did before -- as long as I was encountering and learning new things. Now, each patient is different which appeals to me.

Sure wish you well in coming up with the work you would really enjoy and are obviously so well-qualified to do. Yeah, there is something to be said for your work to be valued by those holding the purse strings, and wish you that benefit, too.

11:40 PM  
Blogger Rain said...

One of the bigger surprises to me about 'old age' was that decisions haven't all been made and those that were are reworked. I suppose I should have realized that retirement or end of regular work would end up with a slew of decisions, even possibly not having full physical abilities, but it still has amazed me. It's almost like being a teen-ager again and wondering what I'll be when I grow up.

On the going back to school for you, check out scholarships. You might be very surprised at the specific scholarships out there for people in various life situations. People set up annuities (my mother in law did) for some of the money they leave or even before they die and they do it to aid those who they relate to their desire to do something like you now. Some of them go wanting because people don't know to apply for them. It takes some researching to find out all of what is there.

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Winston said...

Having just found you again through Joared's link, and even though this post is a few weeks old, I'll throw in my two cents...

Ronni's finding from responses is dead on... expect change. What we plan and dream of and what we end up doing are often vastly different. I retired once and could not stand the lack of focus, so started another business and am still working me arse off with no sign of quitting. Far too many people are not ready for and cannot deal with the abrupt change from working to not working.

I read something recently that made a lot of sense... idleness is not doing nothing, but the freedom to do anything.

There is another area that is very similar to that area of NC you had thought about retiring to. One that is still wide-open and affordable. Check out the area in TN on the Cumberland Plateau along I-40 between Nashville and Knoxville. Specifically, the area around Cookeville and Crossville. Mountains, lakes, small city/large town, college town (Cookeville), easy living, affordable living, proximity to cities. I sound like the Chamber of Commerce...

6:27 AM  
Blogger 1000myths said...

It's just about 10 years ago that my wife came home from work one night and announced that we were being transferred to TEXAS! The thought of leaving our little town house that was within easy walking distance of one of the best surfing beaches on the central coast of California filled me with a feeling of gloom that's hard to describe.

It was "an offer we couldn't refuse" her employers had offered two transfers before and this time it was "you will go to Texas and you will like it" Since my wife was making a lot more than I was and had six years on the job and it was a PROMOTION- I sold my longboard and the house and headed east to Texas by way of Mexico, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada. Soon after I arrived at the assigned destination, I had a pleasant surprise. We hadn't been transferred to Texas, we were in AUSTIN! And Austin is to Texas what NYC is to the state of New York. (The relationship is purely and exclusively geographic)
The shack we sold in California provided enough cash to buy a "real nice spread" in Austin and I put some money in the bank as well.

Now, after almost 10 years, for nine months of the year I wonder why it ever took me so long to get here and for three months (the summer) I wonder what the hell I'm doing here. When you look at the weather reports for cities across the country in August you'll see things like "Hot" "Hot & humid" for various places but when you get to Austin you might see "unbearable" and that's the way it is in the summer but the rest of the time it's one of the best places to live I've ever known and like Johnny Cash used to sing - "I've been everywhere, man, I've been everywhere"

I wouldn't expect you to come to Austin but just go with the flow my friend and you'll probably end up all right.

10:17 AM  

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