Jack Learns to Retire

Jack loved to be out in the garden. Since moving into his retirement home six months previous, he’d decided that fifty years of his working life spent mostly behind a desk or in conference rooms should be filed away for good. Life henceforth would consist of as many outdoor activities he could manage to fit into the day. The fatigue of his last year of work had lifted as if a miracle had been performed when office workers handed him their retirement gifts; he was filled with a new energy. Gardening was an activity where he could find release for pent up energy perhaps?

One of his retirement gifts had been a book on plants and gardens. Jack diligently studied that book the day after his retirement function, and found a list of plants, flowers and bushes, with their particular do’s and don’ts. It was so comprehensive and complicated he was almost tempted to cross gardening off his list of fun things to do. He did decide to keep the book though when a decision was made as to what should be discarded in the move to the retirement location. While unpacking, the book was relegated to the back section of a bookcase.

With unpacking completed he wondered what to do next. He was unsure what should follow once pictures were attached to walls, furniture placed, and household effects placed in their new locations. For a few days he luxuriated in newfound freedom to do what he pleased without the regimentation of a work program. Over the years he’d wistfully looked forward to a time when he could choose to read a book or engage in some other form of recreational activity. Usually those thoughts came when he was chairing a difficult meeting or struggling with strategic goals in a hostile environment. Now that he had the freedom to follow his dream, he felt he should be doing something useful with his time and such thoughts spoilt that dream. He felt resentful his habits of hard regimented work were spoiling well-earned retirement.

Reluctantly he conceded he’d have to ease into the freedom of retirement by creating a weekly schedule. Planning was a part of his life, so this could be the solution to habit and practicality each pulling him in different directions. He scheduled waking time, exercise, trips to town, yard maintenance, keeping up with professional journals and social life. This was designed to convince him he was still useful, while cleverly disguising the fact most activities were now of a recreational nature. It was not very long before that schedule was more notable for exceptions rather than attachment to routines.

Jack was challenged by the Spartan appearance of the yard of this new home. The developers had taken particular care with the front of the house and it looked very attractive, but within the confines of the fenced in area it lacked imagination. This offended Jack’s sense of orderliness and beauty. He began to disregard his time schedule and spend more time landscaping the yard and building garden areas. It was at this point in time he conducted a search for the book on plants and gardens. It took time to dig it out as the library was now scattered in bookcases strategically placed around the house. At last it was located and put into use.

Jack found a new avenue for his creativity in the landscaping exercise, and in later care of gardens. It was then he realized a transition had taken place in his life, and he no longer needed to work to a regimented schedule. That realization came gradually; almost without thought. He could at last be freed from the strictures he’d placed himself under during his working life and begin to enjoy the freedom of retirement.

“© Copyright Ian Grice 2012 All rights reserved”

10 Comments Add yours

  1. susanai says:

    Liked this very much. Jack’s a good bloke.

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    1. Well of course he is! LOL

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  2. persianswan says:

    difficult to break all those habits we ve established through years…didnt know retirement can be so full of joy..

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    1. Well if you plan for it Someya it can be good. I determined that I would get as far away from business, administration and teaching as I could in retirement. So the first thing I did was to take studies in creative writing and I find a lot of pleasure in writing now. I’m certainly not a professional, but at least I’m having fun and it’s something my children will have to remember me by. My grandaughter keeps all my children’s stories in a book she’s making and that makes me happy too.

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  3. lostupabove says:

    I hope it’s not your story, but if it is, you’ve found at last freedom and peace, something not only retired people should try to find, albeit only in their spare time.(i am a bit of a gardener myself so it would be a challenge to garden in Australia, so much more exotic plants to grow.)

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    1. Well some of my postings are from personal experience, and some are the product of many conversations I’ve had with retirees since moving up to the Sunny Coast. These I hammer together into a story whenever the writing bug gets me. LOL. Reading about your background it must have been both interesting and hard to find yourself out of an established comfort zone and plonked into yet another culture you had to adjust to. My girls went through that situation and survived as you obviously have too.

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      1. lostupabove says:

        It wasn’t so bad after all. Most of the time we were in Europe where culture is more or less the same across the continent (at least where we were staying). Food and drink differs a little, but one can buy the same produce everywhere so one can cook what one likes and then there is language ( a bonus) and local habits but I think that these belong more to folklore now than they did 50 or more years ago. Even a lot of shops are the same in the bigger towns as a result of companies getting bigger and bigger. In fact, in retrospect, I would have liked to have been more in Spanish speaking countries,, preferably South America, to pick up some Spanish and to taste some really foreign culture.

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      2. My eldest daughter live with her family in Brussels for a few years and we were able to visit them often before they moved back to the US. There is a real charm about Europe but it’s becoming a dangerous place to live. So far Australia the Land of Oz is safer, but I wonder how long that will last.

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  4. Yes, every day is a holiday in retirement. LOL

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  5. Eric Alagan says:

    Looks like Jack is finally free…congrats 🙂

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