I spent much of my time between ages seven and sixty asking myself what I wanted to be when I grew up. The answer, until two years ago, changed with the season, if not daily. Two years ago, the answer solidified, and was comprised of one word: RETIRED. I began working towards realizing this goal, spurred on by commercials with orange origami squirrels scampering along green paths, leading the way to happy, healthy, and prosperous retiree status.
Here I am… retired. Retirement has blessed me with a new question; what do I want to do while retired? The difference between this question and the question I have asked myself; am I qualified to be a retiree?, is subtle. The latter is more a question of how to, while the former is more a question of (the clock is ticking… I’m trying to determine the spirit of the “want to do” question, and, as with most spirits, this one is elusive, whisping – yes whisping – about my head taunting me with the soft whispering of “duh”); okay, let’s just say it’s a different bigger question.
Many years ago, I determined that if dreams were trees, mine would be Poison Sumac. Retirement has done little to change the genus of my tree-like dreams. They continue to be of the clonal colony variety: one root source with lots of shoots (suckers). Yes my dreams in retirement tend to shoot up from my core, sucking the life out of me almost before mid-day, leaving me craving the comfort of my overstuffed chair and crochet hook and mindless repetitive motion.
Enough of this. There are weeds to pull, to further my dream of a beautiful backyard. There are online courses to study, to further my dreams of becoming a sought after storyteller, writer, philosopher. There are exercise/activity programs to begin like Tai Chi and Yoga that sound cool and allow the practitioner to say things like, “Tai Chi and Yoga are keeping me young; mentally, physically and spiritually, so that I can pursue my retirement dreams.” I find myself, tripping down the weed-tree bordered path of my retirement dream world where wants are easily addressed, if not so easily financed, nor realized when factoring in that well known dream-killer: learning. Dreams, unlike wants, can suffer from the pervasive immediate gratification desire. Internet shopping has made want satisfaction easy, but dream satisfaction usually requires the time required to learn. Learning required can be the toxic Roundup of the dream world. I want to speak Spanish; I don’t really want to LEARN to speak Spanish. I want to play the piano; I don’t really want to LEARN to play the piano. Learning and immediate gratification are on opposite ends of the spectrum. I don’t think they’re even on the same spectrum. No I’m wrong; learning is wonderfully gratifying, there’s just no “immediate” involved. If dreams were insects, some people’s dreams would inch along allowing for learning and experience before entering a cocooned state, to later emerge as gratifyingly beautiful, well-educated, butterflies. My dreams, have rarely developed beyond the larval state. Retirement has given me the gift of free time which should allow for dream maturation; however, my dreams continue to enter pre-pubescence as greasy haired, acne covered pupa before emerging from the chrysalis as moths that make their homes in and around Poison Sumac.
I want to (and I’m going to keep telling myself this until it’s true) embrace learning and pull weeds while retired. I want to be a beautiful, well-educated, moth that hangs out in a weed-free backyard when I grow up.