It occurred to me I’m entering my sixth year of retirement, and it seems like it gets better every year. I still rather like the image of me as a slightly eccentric Bohemian heiress who dabbles in what amuses her. Although I am of Bohemian stock, nothing in my lineage includes money, so sadly, I had to earn my little nest egg.
Although I always had creative drive and longed to be a free agent, writing and puttering as I pleased, I didn’t have the will to live in poverty, as is so often the case with idealistic free agents. Instead, I chose a life of working for the man until there was enough to retire, and now I can dabble to my heart’s delight. Some of my jobs were pretty darned good and some sucked, but now I’m glad I stayed the course.
I’m reminded of a woman I use to work with. I made director before she did and was included in a variety of events for “directors and above.” When she wasn’t invited to said events, she’d say, “Another year of being a nobody.” She eventually got promoted and is presumably happy being somebody. I don’t miss all that faux specialness and have settled quite nicely into being a nobody.
While I do believe in the power of positive thinking, I also think there’s a case for not wanting too much. Not everything has to be bigger, faster, stronger or better in every way. For example, I’m a decent golfer, but I tell myself it’s OK to just play. Sometimes you will play well and sometimes you will not.
Hit the ball, hit the ball again. That’s my new mantra.
I also love word games and can be quite competitive. I quit playing Wordle for a few weeks because I was so angry I lost a game. I’m back to playing and have a nice streak going, but before I play, I tell myself, “You will lose. Accept it.” Somehow preparing for less than stellar results keeps me grounded.
Which brings me to Ray Wylie Hubbard, the renowned Texas musician. One of his notable songs is Mother Blues, a song where he and his guitar tell a richly layered life story. It’s such a cool song, and the last lines are pretty powerful.
And the days that I keep my gratitude
Higher than my expectations
Ah! Well, I have really good days.
That’s kind of where I’m at.
Donna Pekar is an aging badass (for real) who lives in California and writes Retirement Confidential.