Saturday, October 31, 2015

                    TIME:  FRIEND or FOE?

     TIME. Is it like money—you can never have too much of it? Hmm. Good question. If you’re a busy working mom, the answer is obvious. If you’re sick and in pain, time can seem like the enemy. If you’re on vacation, it passes in a blink. If you’re bored, it feels like a noose around your neck. 

     I remember telling my father when I was a teen-ager, “I’m bored.” You would have thought I killed someone. He got so upset. He said something like “With all there is to learn in the world, you should be ashamed to say such a thing. Go get an encyclopedia and teach yourself something. Go do something productive.” Needless to say, boredom was shameful in our house, so it’s no wonder that when I wake up at 3:00 a.m., finish all my projects by 7 a.m. and begin to feel restless by 7:08 that shame creeps in and starts pounding me over the head with an invisible World Book. 

     I can remember when I was a teacher that as much as I loved my job, I did look forward to an occasional snow day or a week’s break. I remember thinking, “I don’t have to get up early, and I can do anything I want all day long.” By the third day, however, I sometimes found myself walking around the house thinking, “What next?” “I miss my kids.”

      Well, folks, when you’re retired, you have a lifetime of this, and trust me, some days seem to last forever. Ask a retired jock, however, and he or she will tell you that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get in all the rounds of golf or USTA matches or marathons. If you’re a bridge player, they’re aren’t enough days in the week to show your bridge pals how smart you are. If you’re a volunteer, you might wish there were more hours in a day to help people. If you’re me, however, you know that every day is a blank page that only you can fill, so figure out how to make it the best day ever.

     I am happy to report that after ten years of retirement, even the long days are good. A little boredom and restlessness make you appreciate the very productive days. Extra free time gives you time to reflect, write letters, do something spontaneous, start a new hobby, call someone you haven’t talked to for 20 years. When we lead frenzied, packed-to-the-max lives, we don’t even know what we are missing, not the least of which is solitude, peace.

     It’s all a balance. Each of us has a different scale, so what is “busy” or “relaxing” for one person may be quite the opposite for another. People always say to me, “Oh, you’re always so busy.” They have no idea how busy I am. It’s a perception based on what I’ve told them or what they might see me doing. For example, if I am standing in front of an audience giving a speech, they think I’ve been writing it for a month and rehearsing it for 48 hours when, in truth, I may have spent a total of two hours on it. It’s all perception. In this society, if you’re not “busy,” people think there’s something wrong with you. Only we know how busy we are or how fulfilled we are. For me, the balance shifts constantly. What fulfilled me last year, bores me now. What stimulated me five years ago makes me yawn. That’s what makes life interesting. I enjoy listening to what others do to fill their time and weighing it against what I choose to do with my  own 24 hours. I know one thing, and this is a wonderful benefit of retirement: I rarely do anything I don’t want to do. That’s pretty cool, huh?

     Time:  friend or foe? Depends on the day:)