Retirement gives one a different outlook on fun. For most of our lives, fun are the things we get to do from time to time as a reward for slogging it out. What better way to cap off a tough week in the office or on the road, then a movie, concert, play, ballgame, fine restaurant, or a vigorous romp in the hay.
Making a living, raising a family, being a good citizen is hard and stressful work, which for most of us dominates the bulk of our best years. Hiking, swimming, tennis, golf, aerobics, yoga, sex, riding, running, fencing, fishing, hunting, boating – regular recreation which provides a safety valve for life’s pressures, improves our physical beings, and offers fun-filled interludes with little pre-planning and no need to leave home.
Weekend get-a-ways and full fledged vacations give us more time for the recreation of choice and a much needed change of scene. International travel broadens horizons. For a Minnesota family, a winter week in South Florida is an injection of joy. While cruise ships cater largely to newly weds and nearly deads, the ability to visit exotic ports in a mobile waterfront super luxury hotel and casino, without packing and unpacking, is about as much fun as one can have clothed.
Special interest categories of fun, like bird watching, stamp collecting, mountain climbing, sky diving, and cave snooping, have limited interest for most people, but for the aficionado create ecstasy.
“Gamers” are unique, as there are bridge, chess, mah jong, monopoly, gin rummy, canasta, and poker players who devote every spare moment to their passion, happy only when sitting at the table.
If, however, we are fortunate enough to be financially secure when our families are raised and we retire, fun is no longer the odd reward for efforts and energies expended surviving, but the principal reason for living. This puts even ones favorite activity in a totally different perspective.
The desire to spend time in a nudist camp could wane if we lived our entire life in the nude. The joy an ardent golfer gets from his weekly game might dissipate if he could play golf every day. Most bodies couldn’t survive a steady diet of fine dining.
As I continue in a consulting role to spend some regular time in my business with my hard working associates of many years, leaving for a three-week boat trip, at the height of a selling season, frankly generates some real measure of guilt. The trip is no longer a justifiable respite from current conditions, but ostensibly a new life made possible by new things done in the past.
Too much of anything, no matter how satisfying, is still too much. We appreciate the warm sun most when exposed to the cold. It is necessary to sometimes be busy in order to fully enjoy not being busy. Routine, hard work, stress and pressure enable us to maximize the benefit of their absence.
My conclusion is that the secret to a fulfilling retirement is not to stop working, but to find new work, pursuits, and projects that are inherently fun, where the pressure to complete them is internally generated, and where the benefit comes from doing the work, rather than a value placed on the results. If the proper balance can be reached between the fun work, pursuits, and projects, and the fun fun, we’re almost certain to maximize the enjoyment potential in each of our remaining days. Frankly, that sounds like fun.