My last post on the complexities of scheduling ones activities in retirement elicited an interesting comment from one of my readers. He pitied a poor soul who didn’t understand that retirement is about relaxation and being able to do nothing. There was also something about people thinking that always being busy somehow raises ones self worth. My immediate reaction was: “Oh, good. Fodder for my next blog.” So, here goes.
First off, kudos to my reader for recognizing that there is value in quiet and in doing nothing. Those who have been to Jagdish’s and my condo in Connecticut know that peace and quiet are a big part of the appeal of this community and our home’s location in particular. We’re on the last circle at the end of a long drive with similar units. Our three-season porch and deck overlook a fairway, which is bounded by woods that run along the Connecticut River.
The peacefulness and the view clinched the sale when I saw the place in June 2014. Jagdish was in India when I signed the contract, but I think he loves it even more than I do. The move and the unpacking took months, but once that was behind me (and I published my third Retirement Sparks book), I did a lot of nothing for quite some time. The indentation in the couch in our family room is proof of this.
After awhile, that wore thin. A life of just peace and quiet has its limitations. Many reputable studies substantiate the value of socializing in maintaining mental and physical health in retirement. Retirees are encouraged to keep active, find a hobby and collect a circle of friends. Or frenemies. Whichever is easier.
Which brings me back to my saxophone lessons. For those who haven’t read my other posts on this topic, a shortened version of the backstory is this. One of my college friends, Lynn, took up clarinet, then sax, later in life. She plays in several bands in her community in Canada and music has become her passion. That got me thinking about taking up sax again. I played alto in my high school band and really enjoyed it.
Fast forward to finding a place to rent a horn and take lessons locally. Done and done. I’m reasonably pleased with my progress, but I need to find more time to practice so that I’m once again good enough to join a group. This is the core of what Sax Appeal is all about. Lynn is nodding her head in vigorous agreement. Playing in a band is a social experience. I remember this fondly from my high school years.
Those who have never been part of a musical assemblage cannot fathom this siren call. My band mates were among my best friends in high school and I’m still in touch with several of them. The prospect of finding similar camaraderie late in life is enticing. I guess I’m still a band geek at heart. Note that I did not say “band nerd.” That’s because I’m also a computer nerd at heart. There is a distinction, but don’t expect me to explain it here.
If the responses to my blog posts on this journey are any indication, a number of you have come to similar conclusions. I’ve lost count of the messages about taking up instruments later in life or re-learning ones from your youth. At my sax lesson this week, I met a man who appeared to be in his late fifties or early sixties. He started taking vocal lessons a year and a half ago and now sings in a church choir. He said he’s not much into the church part of it, but he wanted to sing with a group.
So yes, I could sit on my porch or deck, looking at the view, doing nothing. And I’ll certainly do some of that, especially this fall when the trees turn colors. But I’ll also continue to obsess about scheduling enough time to practice my sax so that I can become a contributing member of a local band. If that means that I feel like I’ve “raised my self worth” because of it, so be it. Lord knows, I’m self-deprecating enough in my writing. I suppose my ego can handle a little massaging.
In fact, just to be sure that I keep so busy that my schedule remains sufficiently complicated, I ordered three books of saxophone music and a sewing machine on-line today. On that note…