When I first retired, two of my goals were to complete my memoirs and to write a novel. The memoirs have languished so far; just random bits and pieces of memories—some painful—set down on paper but not organized, and nowhere near completion. I wrote the novel—in thirty days—when, along with several thousand other “writers,” I participated in National Novel Writing Month in November 2007. Those 50,000 words, although a complete story, still need lots of editing. I’ve barely begun that process and it has been three months. In 2008, I failed to complete even 1000 words. In 2009 and 2010, I completed over 50,000 words and had the satisfaction of saying "I won." Even got to print out a "Winners" certificate with the title of my novel (effort).
I have long deluded myself that I was deprived of the joy of writing because of my career and family priorities. Procrastination was the real reason. Whether fear of failure or fear of success, I never pushed myself to get to work. I would finally have the time when I retired—that was my plan.
So now, each morning in retirement, I first complete all my chores around the house so I can get to the computer. I sign in with the best of intentions to write something “good” but first I check e-mails, review counter “hits” on blogs, read private messages on social sites. See what my “friends” and “favorites” have been saying and doing (which usually doesn’t amount to much more than what I am saying and doing). This has become my job?
Originally, joining social networking sites and blogging was just kind of the cool thing to do because you see others doing it. (Now doesn’t that sound like something teenagers do?) So, one blog leads to another, one social site membership leads to another. Before long, I started to feel like all my time was being spent in front of the computer. Wow. That sounds a lot like my job before I retired. And that’s it, partly. Isn’t it? Wanting to feel like you have something to accomplish every day? In retirement, I thing many of us fight the feeling of uselessness, of not contributing anymore. And as blogging and social networking begins to take up more and more of my time, I start to think of it as my job. Just wasting time? I wonder.
My wife wonders too, first of all, why I would want to share my life and thoughts with “just anyone” out in the world. Secondly, she wonders why anyone “out there” would care? Who reads these blog “things” she asks? And I reply that I don’t know. “Just other people like me, I guess. People with too much time on their hands, or folks who make believe, as I am, that they are actually accomplishing something.” So as I have second thoughts about how I am spending the hours and days of my life…here in late middle age…wow, I am 61…perhaps it is fortunate for me that I have a spouse who cares, who questions, who challenges, who doesn’t just walk away and let me sit here, day after day, with the remaining days of my life. We do deserve more.
I live in one of the best places in the country. So now I resolve, as soon as it warms up (this is Montana, after all), I will get outside and do something active every day. I will schedule fitness into my routine. I have many home do-it-myself projects that need doing. I have grandchildren to take on hikes, and adult sons to take camping and flyfishing and golfing. So I must resolve right now to limit my participation in Eons, Facebook, MySpace, WindowsLive, Gaia, Blogger, YouTube, Blurb, Pageflakes, Popfly, Yahoo360, iGoogle, Buzzdash, Mahalo and Wiki(anything). Can you imagine? Look at all these “sites”! That’s where my life is spent. (“Spent” is a good word here, if you think about it.) I don’t think there is anything wrong with participating in any of these sites; but if THIS IS ALL I DO—well, I’m not “doing” much.
No more soft life just sitting around for me. I will be working harder on living hard.