Thursday, January 23, 2014

Transitions, without a net

With a brutal winter having its way with us, there's not even the glimmer of a chance of riding.  The time I might have spent riding, I spend thinking.  That's a mixed blessing at best.

When you're a kid, important transitions happen in pretty quick succession.  I don't remember planning for them in any real way.  They just happened to me, and I moved on.

I guess it's in part my nature, in part because few kids plan much beyond a few days.  Maybe when Christmas looms kids can spend months planning for the gifts they want.  But that seems, at least for me when I was a kid, to be about it.

Things sure do change.

Retirement is the transition that looms large.  It has been that way for the past 26 years.  I began to save as soon as I realized the enormity of the challenge.  Lone provider, three kids, a job with no pension... it all adds up to a daunting biological clock ticking away mercilessly.   It seemed hopeless in the beginning.  I joked about retiring to a trailer park.

Now that retirement is single digits away, my boyish brown hair has shifted to gray, and the kids are on their own, retirement is really looming quite large.  It's been like rowing a boat on a dead calm sea towards an island that's a spot in the distance.  The island is now dominating the view.  I take stock often, and am more concerned with the vagaries of the markets than ever before.

I now think that we'll be OK.  There won't be a trailer park, unless it's by choice and it's my RV in a campground on the Florida coast. My financial planner said she's proud of me, that I've done better than some, and that's a comforting thought.  But I'm a worrier.  I wasn't an easy-going smiler in my youth, and there's less of that in me now.  Husband, father, breadwinner.  Done well, these things take a toll.  I am the polar opposite of Owen Wilson and Woody Allen would be best cast to play me in a movie.  OK, now I'm being too hard on myself.  I admire Woody.  He has the guts to say things out loud that most of us wouldn't dare utter.

I'm looking forward to having fewer cares, less stress.  I have to learn to smile, relax.  I've never been a dancer.  Dances make me shrink like a violet.  Maybe we'll take dancing lessons.  I'd like to be more like Paul Ruby.  I like Paul.

Hey Paul! Please leave Italy as you found it!  I'll be there in May and I'm looking forward to finding it as I last left it.

15 comments:

  1. David:

    Have you got a spare room in that trailer ? Remember that gray hair is better than no H.......

    I'm a bit envious as these thoughts are also on my mind and I am a worrier too. Where did the time go ? Whilst your Retirement is in the single digits, I may count mine on one finger

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

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    1. Bob, there will always be room in my trailer for you and Yvonne.

      And where did the time go? Wow! I remember when I was 6 and summer lasted forever. Christmas couldn't come fast enough, and I recited my age proudly in 1/4s and halfs.

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  2. I must admit that I'm right there with you (and Bob!) but haven't given it much thought over the years. Working for the university has made me not think about it much over the years.

    Italy! Single digit years or in Bob's case one digit! I still haven't figured out what I want to do when I grow up...

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    1. Richard it's a club with a lot of members. The rump of the baby boom.

      I know what I want to do when I grow up, now I just have to find someone who will let me do it. I want to teach business law and ethics to MBA students.

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    2. Have fun with that. I've taught as adjunct faculty here at the university for about 18 years and it was a blast. Good luck with that.

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  3. David - It could have been me that wrote that - saving, no pension, etc. Sometimes you just have to accept the numbers and jump in feet first. You won't be sorry - it's wonderful on this side.

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    1. Dave, thanks for the vote of confidence and the 'weather report' from the other side. I have some large amounts of saving to do before I can cut the income cord. But I am now longing for the shift. I'd also like to try my hand at writing to earn a few bucks.

      I have the beginnings of a novel in the works. I'd like to finish it and see if it stands a chance of publication.

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  4. We have another 20 years of work before retirement but it is in our minds as neither of us have pensions at work.

    Kudos to you for your thinking ahead and may the transition be smooth when it gets here.

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    1. Thanks Brandy! I think we'll all be OK. We (you and Brad, Karen, Sonja and Roland, Bob and Yvonne, the other Bob, Richard, Coop, Steve, Paul, Keith and the rest of this little community) are pretty frugal and responsible level-headed people. Susan and I believe in fate, and I believe in the immutable law of averages. The other Bob inspires me too. We'll be just fine.

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  5. I have recently come to the conclusion that the time to retirement is now shorter than the working years behind me. I do not have to worry though, I have always earned my own bread, and bonus I have a certain somebody playing along. With no obligations (no kids, no house, no debts) at hand we live a fairly comfortable life. Our retirement plans are set in motion, and it's safe to say that we are going to be ok.

    What I would like to do when I grow up is to continue working on my own terms as long as my health and mind let me. Lots of politicians are starting their careers at 60+…

    Having said that, I am very familiar with your way of worrying and forward thinking (got any German ancestors in your family tree?).

    Traveling to Italy? Good plan!

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    1. Sonja, you and Roland have a great recipe. Living a life rich in experiences and lean in 'stuff' is definitely the right path to enduring happiness.

      Many of my friends were German émigrés when I was a kid. I had to pick up a little German to get along. Maybe some German prudence rubbed off.

      Italy indeed. I'll send you an e-mail.

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  6. David, I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up so guess I'll just have to keep on working until I figure it out.

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    1. Karen, you're incredibly strong and brave and your solo moto adventures are an inspiration. It was a privilege to share the road with you this summer. You are the one degree of separation that unites a bunch of us.

      Thinking you're not grown up yet is one of the secrets of keeping the spark alive.

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  7. Retirement takes on some uncomfortable power when it changes from an abstract idea to a near term reality. I've worked almost my entire career at one place that has a traditional pension in place but I still worry in the same manner as you do. For now, I find my work engaging and challenging but retirement is in the single digits away most likely but can easily see myself going longer if the body, mind and interest level continue....

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  8. Steve, we're not in the 50's or 60's when retirement at 65 was all but a certainty.

    You really enjoy what you do and if there is a way to pursue it, you're in a really good place.

    I have this idea that if I thought I could make a contribution to my profession, something meaningful and a public good, then I would continue working. Otherwise, I will want out so that I can devote myself to fun and family.

    Any way you slice it, it's a big change looming, and changes like that can trouble us until we get to the other side, safe, sound, and happy.

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