A Short History of Later Living
I’ve neglected this blog for some months, but I’m now ready to revive it.
Back in late 2011 when I started, two motives dominated. First, I wanted to see if I could write a weekly post or column (it’s not easy). Second, I wanted to figure out retirement for myself (how should I live in retirement?).
The absence of paid work greatly alters a man’s (or woman’s) life, and retirees are challenged to fill the void with other activities. In my view, men may find this especially difficult. They have spent decades in the harness of paid work that requires attention to non personal problems. Quiet strength is a virtue, and colleagues don’t share personal stories about life’s most vexing and sensitive problems. Privacy and projected competence are norms.
Little in middle life prepares us for retirement, and we never took courses about it. In my case, I filled the vacuum mostly with many little things, walking in the woods, reading, riding a bicycle, meeting friends for lunch, taking photographs, managing our woods, among other little activities. I didn’t have a big alternative to work waiting in the wings. Can such small things yield a meaningful life? “Yes,” I’ve argued here in many posts. There is both truth and mystery in ordinary life.
When starting the blog, I had help from our son. He built and promoted the website. Public relations (PR) is his profession, and under his guidance, the readership grew quickly. Before long, however, he accepted professional work in Washington DC and could no longer represent Later Living. The blog didn’t earn income, and I didn’t want to pay another PR person from our retirement income, so the PR work stopped.
But I continued to write. During 2012, 2013 and 2014, I posted regularly. In 2015 I posted less, especially in the fall. This year I posted only twice before now. Part of the slowdown is explained by the now weakened original motives. I learned I can write weekly, and writing about retirement taught me a great deal about my life.
Another part of the slowdown is due to health problems. In the autumn of 2015 my wife and I both had surgery, and we spent the entire season caring for each other.
A New Season
I’ve missed blogging. And writing to make sense of ordinary life seems as viable as ever. Conversations with friends and other retirees continually remind me that many people burden their inner lives with fear and anxiety about life’s common problems.
The only significant change I’m planning now is to aim for shorter posts, maybe 500 words. As my life slows, shorter writing assignments should leave time for other activities.
To start, the next few posts will concern travel. We just returned from a long road trip during which we visited old friends and toured some spectacular parts of the American west. I hope you enjoy the stories and photos.