I have just turned 62.
Officially, I could, should I desire to, retire on my Social Security.
Funny how the very thought is comforting.
My job seems relatively safe. But should it suddenly and arbitrarily cease, I would have a guaranteed income. Never mind that the income would cover my mortgage and utilities but NOT my credit cards--at least I can count on it from this moment forward.
It feels like a weight has been lifted. I have no intention of retiring now but I like knowing that I can if I have to.
In a non-financial sense, now is also when I begin planning in earnest for my second adulthood. That's not my term; it belongs to Mary Catherine Bateson who writes about adults in retirement in "Composing a Further Life." Back in 1989, she wrote the best-seller "Composing a Life" about the stages of life women go through and how it was impacted by feminist thought in the '70s. Now she extends her discussion into the years after retirement (it's not an accident that she wrote this book at age 68 after retiring from years in academia) and includes men in the discussion. I thought the inclusion of both sexes was important because 'second adulthood' is a new phenomenen and neither men nor women have any template for the lives they are now creating and living.
For people between ages 55 and 80, most relatively healthy and used to being intellectually and physically active (well, for this couch potato, maybe less about the latter!), this is a whole new life phase, one for which there is no roadmap.
Many people that Bateson interviewed reverted to some long-forgotten interest that now moved into the forefront of their lives, and this time, that interest was unemcumbered by the need to make a living at it. One man started and nurtured a journal on race relations, deliberately keeping it away from university affiliation so that his writers could comment on academia without fear of repercussions or closure of the journal. Another who repaired boats his entire working life turned a gift for teaching others into a jewelry-crafting option in the desert.
For me, the most interesting part of the book was an examination of each persons life story, looking for the patterns--what decisions did people actively make for themselves; what decisions were made for them; where did they take charge and where did they allow life to happen, and, most importantly, how satisfied were they with course their life took.
I think it's time to take a look at my life narrative.
Knowing where I've been and both the whys and hows of getting there is a first step.
The big next step is figuring out where I want to go from here.