Retirement, what is it good for?

D. Brent Miller

It seems I have been fighting this for some time. A realization. People would ask me if I am retired, and I would give them my standard answer, “I am semi-retired, but I still do a little writing and photography.” If they asked my wife, she would say, “Oh yeah. He’s retired.”

And that 1970 song by Edwin Starr keeps ringing in my head, “War! What is it good for? … Absolutely nothing.” Maybe that song sticks in my head because I was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1970 and went to Vietnam in 1971. I did my best. I served my country. But, what exactly was that war all about?

I kind of feel like that about retirement. What is retirement really all about? What is it good for? There is some reality that must be faced, and it comes with new opportunities and challenges. First, there is a lot of freedom in retirement. No schedule that you have to keep. You can sleep in, or get up every morning before 6:30 like I do with or without an alarm clock. You can do the things you want and go to places you have always wanted to see. Of course, there are financial considerations.

You can do things for others. Put others first. Serve others. There can be a lot of joy in serving others, and it’s not like work in a dreary job, where no one or few appreciate your efforts.

In retirement, I have found joy in volunteering. To serve others. To help bring someone else along or lift them up. To share skills and knowledge. Yes, there are some schedules to keep, and accountability, but there is joy. Fulfillment. Happiness.

I have concluded that I am actually not retired. I am 68 years old and a Volunteer. And, I will keep writing and photographing, but just for me. You can read along, if you want, here in these pages.

D. Brent Miller

See you on the highway.


2 Replies to “Retirement, what is it good for?”

  1. Brent, I’ve observed some friends and coworkers as they retired and it’s been a mixed bag for them. One literally went back to work the next week at a new job for lousy pay because he couldn’t stand the thought of not working. Another took six months to realize that her identity had been entirely wrapped up in her career and so had to rediscover herself. Others made a beeline for the golf course and are happy there.

    I retired ten years ago February and it’s been an interesting and sometimes challenging journey. One thing is certain: I don’t miss having a regular job and all the stuff that comes with it. I’m free to go to bed when I’m sleepy, get up when I’m rested, and spend my energy and time on the things that are important to me. In my case, it’s been photography, motorcycles, and landscaping my yard. I think the only wrong way to retire is to simply sit down and wait to die, and some do that and succeed at it.

    I think you and I are a lot alike, we will both croak eventually but it won’t be because of idleness.

  2. Totally agree with you. I retired at 60 (72 this year). Volunteered for 3 years teaching senior citizens basic computer skills which was very rewarding. Then raised my own motorcycle skills with the NZ branch of the UK Institute of Advanced Motorists. Paid it back by training to be an instructor. A double win because it keeps me sharp and enjoying my passion whilst helping others to stay safe. Can’t lose!

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